Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Charlotte Wheeler

Postdoctoral Research Associate in Participatory Peat Forest

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Biography

Charlotte completed her PhD at University College London in 2017. Her research focused on the potential of tropical forest restoration for climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection, supervised by Prof Simon Lewis and Prof Mat Disney. Since 2017, she has been a post-doctoral researcher in the geosciences department at the University of Edinburgh researching tropical forest degradation with Dr Ed Mitchard and Prof Mat Williams. She has been developing new methods for mapping forest degradation, which combine field-based forest plot data and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data. Charlotte is also conducting researching in Peruvian peatlands using participatory mapping techniques to understand the value of tropical peat forests.

Research Interests

Charlotte’s research is focused in the tropics and she is particularly interested in understanding the impacts of tropical forest loss on climate change and the potential of large-scale forest restoration for climate change mitigation. She is specifically interested in understanding subtle changes in forest cover linked to forest degradation, including processes such as; selective logging, small scale conversion of forests for subsistence agriculture, and sub-canopy forest clearance for commercial agriculture (E.g. shade grown Cocoa). Such processes are much harder to map than deforestation and subsequently the extent, rate and drivers of forest degradation are poorly understood. Within the Forest 2020 project, Charlotte is working on developing improved methods for mapping forest degradation and quantifying the associated carbon losses, with the aim of improving our understanding of carbon emission from forest degradation.

Charlotte is also very interested in the potential of large-scale forest restoration as a climate change mitigation option. Specifically, she is interested in understanding the potential of natural regeneration of degraded forest for both climate mitigation and ecosystem service co-benefits such as biodiversity protection, watershed protection and erosion control. Additionally, she is interested in how agroforestry and plantation based agriculture can be integrated into restoration plans, in the face of expanding human populations with a need for increased food production, and how using such tree based crops will effect climate mitigation.

Charlotte is also interested in understanding how local communities interact with forests; the resources they extract, community members perceptions of how forest are changing and how this impacts their livelihoods and how they could be supported by governments and organisations to develop sustainable forest management practices.

Current Research Interests

Current Projects

1) Forest 2020

Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Forest Degradation Mapping

 

The ‘Forest 2020’ project is a UK Space Agency funded project (https://ecometrica.com/space/forests2020) working on improving forest monitoring techniques and capacity within developing tropical countries. Specifically Charlotte is working on improving methods for mapping forest degradation using permanent forest plot data and ALOS Palsar L-Band SAR data.

 

2) Valuing Intact Tropical Peatlands

Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Participatory Peat Forest Value Mapping

 

The ‘Valuing Intact Tropical Peatlands’ project is a Leverhulme Trust funded project which is researching the value of tropical peatlands in Peru, not just ecologically, but also socially and culturally. Charlotte is utilising mobile phone technology to carry out participatory mapping with local communities to understand the importance of peatlands for livelihoods and resources, alongside the cultural and social values assigned to these forests.

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