I joined the SERG team in September 2014 on a PhD, my project is investigating the ‘restoration of saltmarsh areas and the potential to subsidise these through the blue carbon market’. The loss or degradation of ecosystems is a trait being observed all over the world; with coastal areas being no exception – experiencing loss through land use change, for example conversion to farmland, and the process of ‘squeezing’ as climate change induced sea level rise and hard engineered coastal flood defences leave little room for the ecosystem to adapt. This will also mean the loss of their associated important and useful ecosystem goods and services; e.g. coastal protection or carbon sequestration. Thus it is important to maintain and restore such areas, however this ability is limited by a variety of factors; with perhaps the most influential being the costs involved - economically and socially.
My research will have two main areas of focus; firstly grounded in ecology – with saltmarsh ecosystems and the various processes occurring within them (carbon sequestration) being the crux, secondly there will be a focus on economics – namely the way in which ecosystem services (direct or indirect) are valued and can generate income for management and restoration. Through the PhD I will evaluate the process of restoration of saltmarshes and assess the influence in terms of increased carbon sequestration and storage. Further to this I’ll also investigate the way in which carbon is stored in, transported to and exported from salt marsh systems and thus assess areas of restoration that could improve sequestration capacity. Along with these various ecological data I will consider the economic value of the ecosystem and how payments for ecosystem services (namely carbon financing) could be accessed and best invested in current and future restoration projects.
The overall aim of the research is to develop sound strategies that will facilitate increased carbon potential through restoration and maintenance of salt marsh areas being subsidised by payment for the ecosystem services of carbon sequestration; resulting in a self-perpetuating system of conservation.
I graduated from the University of Portsmouth, UK with a degree in Biology in 2010. Since graduating I have spent time in Madagascar running a mangrove conservation NGO, working with a rural community to help them restore and sustainably use their forest resource. I have also spent time working with an ecological consultancy in the UK.