Lancaster scientist to help identify biodiversity conservation priorities in the Amazon

Dr Leonardo de Sousa Miranda
Leonardo de Sousa Miranda in the Amazon, and also at Lancaster Environment Centre

A Lancaster University researcher has received an award and funding that will enable him to identify priority areas for biodiversity conservation and habitat restoration in the Brazilian Amazon.

Brazilian researcher, Dr Leonardo de Sousa Miranda of Lancaster Environment Centre, is the winner of the 2023 Ramboll Foundation Award and a prize of 67,000 Euros. The funding will support his research that will also include assessing climate and land-use change impacts in the world’s largest rainforest.

Dr de Sousa Miranda’s work will focus on the Brazilian state of Pará, a globally recognised biodiversity hotspot, hosting over 10% of the world's birds. However, the region is grappling with the adverse impacts of deforestation, which are slowly eroding biological riches.

This deforestation has also led to significant greenhouse gas emissions, making Pará one of the highest-emitting states in Brazil.

The state government of Pará has launched several plans to make the region carbon-neutral, including a large-scale reforestation project. However, there is currently insufficient information to include terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity within the plans.

Dr de Sousa Miranda’s research seeks to integrate biodiversity conservation efforts with the broader scope of Pará’s restoration project.

“My work involves creating spatial scenarios and a decision-making support tool using a combination of ecological and socio-economic data, which seeks to identify and prioritise restoration efforts that maximise positive outcomes for biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and socio-economic factors,” he said.

Dr de Sousa Miranda will develop spatial scenarios for the restoration project by considering species distribution and native vegetation cover, among other landscape features. These scenarios will then be ranked based on their potential impacts on biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, compliance with legal requirements and socio-economic considerations.

The research has the potential to serve as a model for similar regions worldwide wrestling with biodiversity conservation challenges and climate change impacts.

The Ramboll Foundation Award is an annual research award of DKK 500,000 (EUR/USD 67,000) awarded to a young scientist to support a particular field of research. The award is given to an individual scientist with a university affiliation. This year, the subject of the award is “loss of biodiversity”.

Back to News