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Morel A.C.,University of Oxford | Saatchi S.S.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Malhi Y.,University of Oxford | Berry N.J.,Ecometrica | And 2 more authors.
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2011

Conversion of tropical forests to oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia has resulted in large-scale environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity and significant carbon emissions. For both countries to participate in the United Nation's REDD (Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Degradation) mechanism, assessment of forest carbon stocks, including the estimated loss in carbon from conversion to plantation, is needed. In this study, we use a combination of field and remote sensing data to quantify both the magnitude and the geographical distribution of carbon stock in forests and timber plantations, in Sabah, Malaysia, which has been the site of significant expansion of oil palm cultivation over the last two decades. Forest structure data from 129ha of research and inventory plots were used at different spatial scales to discriminate forest biomass across degradation levels. Field data was integrated with ALOS PALSAR (Advanced Land-Observing Satellite Phased Array L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar) imagery to both discriminate oil palm plantation from forest stands, with an accuracy of 97.0% (κ=0.64) and predict AGB using regression analysis of HV-polarized PALSAR data (R2=0.63, p<.001). Direct estimation of AGB from simple regression models was sensitive to both environmental conditions and forest structure. Precipitation effect on the backscatter data changed the HV prediction of AGB significantly (R2=0.21, p<.001), and scattering from large leaves of mature palm trees significantly impeded the use of a single HV-based model for predicting AGB in palm oil plantations. Multi-temporal SAR data and algorithms based on forest types are suggested to improve the ability of a sensor similar to ALOS PALSAR for accurately mapping and monitoring forest biomass, now that the ALOS PALSAR sensor is no longer operational. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Sanchez S.T.,Life Cycle Associates LLC | Woods J.,Imperial College London | Akhurst M.,Imperial College London | Brander M.,Ecometrica | And 5 more authors.
Journal of the Royal Society Interface | Year: 2012

The expansion of land used for crop production causes variable direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, and other economic, social and environmental effects. We analyse the use of life cycle analysis (LCA) for estimating the carbon intensity of biofuel production from indirect land-use change (ILUC). Two approaches are critiqued: direct, attributional life cycle analysis and consequential life cycle analysis (CLCA). A proposed hybrid 'combined model' of the two approaches for ILUC analysis relies on first defining the system boundary of the resulting full LCA. Choices are then made as to the modelling methodology (economic equilibrium or cause-effect), data inputs, land area analysis, carbon stock accounting and uncertainty analysis to be included. We conclude that CLCA is applicable for estimating the historic emissions from ILUC, although improvements to the hybrid approach proposed, coupled with regular updating, are required, and uncertainly values must be adequately represented; however, the scope and the depth of the expansion of the system boundaries required for CLCA remain controversial. In addition, robust prediction, monitoring and accounting frameworks for the dynamic and highly uncertain nature of future crop yields and the effectiveness of policies to reduce deforestation and encourage afforestation remain elusive. Finally, establishing compatible and comparable accounting frameworks for ILUC between the USA, the European Union, South East Asia, Africa, Brazil and other major biofuel trading blocs is urgently needed if substantial distortions between these markets, which would reduce its application in policy outcomes, are to be avoided. © 2012 The Royal Society.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Feasibility Study | Award Amount: 89.03K | Year: 2014

Biomass produced from perennial energy crops, Miscanthus and short-rotation coppice, can reduce the carbon intensity of energy production. The UK Government has had incentive policies in place, targeting farmers and power plant investors to develop this market, but growth has been slower than anticipated. Market expansion requires farmers to select to grow these crops, and the construction of facilities to consume them. This project develops and uses environmental data linked to a model of biomass supply and demand to improve our understanding of the behaviour of the energy crop market in the UK. The project is led by a consulting company (Ecometrica) developing a data platform that will be available to potential market participants, based on scenario results from a market model developed by academic researcher (SRUC). Realistic market scenarios will be developed and tested using the decisions facing a major energy market participant (E.ON). The outcome will be a credible set of business scenarios of market development useful for both government and private investors, and information on the environmental impact, including the lifecycle carbon cost.


Torres A.B.,University of York | Torres A.B.,Instituto Tecnologico Y Of Estudios Superiores Of Occidente Iteso | Torres A.B.,Sustainable Development Technology | Marchant R.,University of York | And 4 more authors.
Ecological Economics | Year: 2010

Carbon sequestration in forest sinks is an important strategy to remove greenhouse gases and to mitigate climate change; however its implementation has been limited under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol which has not created the incentives for widespread implementation. The objective of this paper is to analyze the sequestration costs of agroforestry afforestation and reforestation projects (ARPs) following a partial market equilibrium using average cost curves and economic break even analysis to identify the supply costs. The modelling done in this work contrasts the voluntary and clean development mechanism transaction costs. Data is based on the voluntary project, Scolel Té, being implemented in Mexico. Cost curves are developed for seven different sequestration options considering transaction and implementation costs; information from agricultural production in Chiapas Mexico is used to integrate opportunity costs of two agroforestry practices suggesting that sequestration costs may follow a "U" shape, with an initial reduction due to economies of scale and a subsequent increase caused by high opportunity costs. The widespread implementation of agroforestry options not requiring complete land conversion (e.g. living fences and coffee under shade) might be cost effective strategies not generating high opportunity costs. Results also suggest that payments in the early years of the project and lower transaction costs favour the development of ARPs in the voluntary market especially in marginal rural areas with high discount rates. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Rideout A.J.R.,Napier University | Joshi N.P.,Ecometrica | Viergever K.M.,Ecometrica | Huxham M.,Napier University | Briers R.A.,Napier University
Global Change Biology | Year: 2013

Deforestation of mangroves is of global concern given their importance for carbon storage, biogeochemical cycling and the provision of other ecosystem services, but the links between rates of loss and potential drivers or risk factors are rarely evaluated. Here, we identified key drivers of mangrove loss in Kenya and compared two different approaches to predicting risk. Risk factors tested included various possible predictors of anthropogenic deforestation, related to population, suitability for land use change and accessibility. Two approaches were taken to modelling risk; a quantitative statistical approach and a qualitative categorical ranking approach. A quantitative model linking rates of loss to risk factors was constructed based on generalized least squares regression and using mangrove loss data from 1992 to 2000. Population density, soil type and proximity to roads were the most important predictors. In order to validate this model it was used to generate a map of losses of Kenyan mangroves predicted to have occurred between 2000 and 2010. The qualitative categorical model was constructed using data from the same selection of variables, with the coincidence of different risk factors in particular mangrove areas used in an additive manner to create a relative risk index which was then mapped. Quantitative predictions of loss were significantly correlated with the actual loss of mangroves between 2000 and 2010 and the categorical risk index values were also highly correlated with the quantitative predictions. Hence, in this case the relatively simple categorical modelling approach was of similar predictive value to the more complex quantitative model of mangrove deforestation. The advantages and disadvantages of each approach are discussed, and the implications for mangroves are outlined. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Collaborative Research & Development | Award Amount: 236.25K | Year: 2016

A 2 year, collaborative R&D investment by Ecometrica, Envsys and Rothamsted Research aims to develop initial wall-to-wall applications of Sentinel Earth Observation (EO) derived information products for environmental compliance and productivity monitoring in agriculture. Innovation is needed to develop the processing methods, calibration / validation processes and demonstration applications that be scaled-up to run across large areas on a continual basis, producing actionable content to be used by national agencies and businesses. The project will make use of a new Earth Observation data management facility (EO Lab) being established at Agrimetrics and will be an early demonstrator of how content management systems can be used to manage IP and realise commercial opportunities for agricultural information services in UK and export markets.


News Article | July 11, 2012
Site: www.ecometrica.com

All the results, calculations, emission factors and references were available immediately to our external auditors who found the system easy to use during their assurance of our report to the Carbon Disclosure Project. We also found Ecometrica’s support team to be highly capable and responsive throughout the assessment process. We are looking to extend our environmental reporting to a broader set of sustainability metrics, and Ecometrica gives us the best opportunity to do that both now and in the future. We also report annually to the CDP and in line with our UK mandatory carbon reporting obligations, so having software that allows us to download compliant PDFs that we can submit easily was very appealing.


News Article | July 11, 2012
Site: www.ourimpacts.com

Leading businesses make sustainability management and reporting a core part of their strategy. That’s because becoming a sustainable business means becoming a successful business: reducing costs, addressing customer priorities, treating people fairly and meeting objectives in turn leads to greater interactions, and higher turnover. Ecometrica’s Sustainability suite is an end-to-end environmental accounting and sustainability management solution with all the familiar features you’d expect, plus a few unique ones that you’ll only get with Ecometrica. It is used by the world’s largest companies to collect a diverse data set, often going well beyond traditional sustainability management and bringing clarity to a range of non-financial business information.


News Article | July 11, 2012
Site: www.ecometrica.com

At the end of 2012 Ecometrica awarded two scholarships to Emily Woollen and Alice Duff to develop research from their respective PhD and Masters theses into Our Ecosystem apps. The two resulting apps demonstrate the ease with which you can use very different geospatial data to create easily accessible apps for analysing, communicating and sharing geospatial data. The Ecometrica Scholarships are available to students from Edinburgh University and Imperial College London – two institutions with which Ecometrica has close research links. Emily Woollen, the Gold Scholar, developed an app over a two month internship at Ecometrica from her PhD research titled “Carbon dynamics in African miombo woodlands: from the leaf to the landscape”. Her Our Ecosystem app creates an interactive platform to explore and communicate the research outcomes of her PhD study. It presents results from a simple rule-based risk model, “ACEU”, to estimate the risk of deforestation and degradation for a case study area in Gorongosa district of central Mozambique. You can have a look at Emily’s Our Ecosystem app here. Emily recently finished her PhD on carbon dynamics of African miombo woodlands at the School of GeoSciences, following on from her undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Emily’s research has focused on quantifying and understanding the carbon cycle and its links to global change. Her expertise lies in forest ecology, and carbon measurement and accounting in forests and natural landscapes. She has extensive fieldwork experience working in southern Africa and the UK, and during her undergraduate degree organised a student led expedition to Madagascar to study forest degradation and chameleon ecology of coastal forests. Her research uses a range of ecological measurement techniques and analyses such as gas flux, forest inventory and remote sensing. She has a continued interest in global change, forest ecology, carbon accounting and international carbon policy, as well as a passion for teaching. Alice Duff, our Silver Scholar, developed an Our Ecosystem app with the help of analysts at Ecometrica to illustrate the correlation between the Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset (ACLED) and fire incidents in Sub-Saharan Africa. A correlation she explored as part of her masters dissertation titled “Adding Fuel to the Fire; the Effect of Political Unrest on Forest Burning in Sub-Saharan Africa”. Alice presents her findings using two contrasting cases studies, one of Nigeria and the other of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Alice’s Our Ecosystem app, “Political Fires” can be viewed and queried here. Alice recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MSc in Geographical Information Science, having previously been awarded a BSc in Environmental Science from the University of East Anglia. She is currently working as a GIS consultant for a leading GIS software company; Esri. Prior to this Alice spent a year as a GIS Technician for an international geophysics company based in Holland, and whilst studying for her BSc, volunteered as a GIS Analyst for the RSPB. The combination of an MSc in GIS and a BSc in Environmental Science has led Alice to develop a fascination for using GIS to analyse and interpret environmental and humanitarian issues. Her MSc dissertation explored the correlation between political unrest and increased instances of forest fire in Sub-Saharan Africa, which formed the basis for her Our Ecosystem app. She is currently working on publishing her first academic paper, investigating how the road network in Sub-Saharan Africa has influenced the fire regime in the areas surrounding it.

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