Our Research

Our Research Pillars

  • Understanding

  • Identifying

  • Overcoming

  • Prioritising

  • Leveraging

Climate change is a shift in our planet’s weather and climate systems that brings about increasing average temperatures and more erratic weather events, rising seas, changes inhabitats and wildlife, and a myriad of other impacts. Understanding the implications and likelihood of climate change impacts on natural and human systems in the Asia-Pacific region is important for developing strategies to safeguard the region against environmental, social and economic perturbations.

  • Drivers of global mangrove loss and gain in social-ecological systems

    Valerie Hagger, Thomas A. Worthington, Catherine E. Lovelock, Maria Fernanda Adame, Tatsuya Amano, Benjamin M. Brown, Daniel A. Friess, et al.
    Nature Communications

    This paper assesses the relationship between socioeconomic and biophysical variables and mangrove change across coastal geomorphic units worldwide from 1996 to 2016. Globally, this paper finds that drivers of loss can also be drivers of gain, and that drivers have changed over 20 years.

    Published October 2022
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  • Blue carbon science, management and policy across a tropical urban landscape

    Daniel A. Friess, Yasmine M.Gatt, Tze Kwan Fung, Danwei Huang, Valerie Kwan, Kiah Eng, Lian Pin Koh, et al.
    Landscape and Urban Planning

    The ability of vegetated coastal ecosystems to sequester high rates of “blue” carbon over millennial time scales has attracted the interest of national and international policy makers as a tool for climate change mitigation. The experiences of Singapore show that coastal ecosystems and their blue carbon stocks can be successfully managed along an urban coastline, and can help inform blue carbon science and management along other rapidly urbanizing coastlines throughout the tropics.

    Published October 2022
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  • Cross-cutting research themes for future mangrove forest research

    Farid Dahdouh-Guebas, Daniel A. Friess, Catherine E. Lovelock, Rod M. Connolly, Ilka C. Feller, Kerrylee Rogers, and Stefano Cannicci
    Nature Plants

    This paper identified the function of mangrove ecosystems that underpin ecosystem services, their responses to extreme weather and climatic events, and their role as crucial social-ecological systems as important paradigms shaping mangrove research now and in times to come.

    Published October 2022
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  • Temporal and spatial dynamics of tropical macroalgal contributions to blue carbon

    Valerie Kwan, Jenny Fong, Chin Soon Lionel Ng, Danwei Huang
    Science of The Total Environment

    Blue carbon ecosystems are a vital part of nature-based climate solutions due to their capacity to store and sequester carbon, but often exclude macroalgal beds even though they can form highly productive coastal ecosystems. This study demonstrates that macroalgal seasonality allows for a consistent amount of biomass carbon to either be exported and eventually sequestered, or harvested for utilization on an annual basis.

    Published July 2022
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  • Achieving ambitious mangrove restoration targets will need a transdisciplinary and evidence-informed approach

    Daniel A. Friess, Yasmine M. Gatt, Rio Ahmad, Benjamin M. Brown, Frida Sidik, Dominic Wodehouse
    One Earth

    There are ambitious plans to restore hundreds of thousands of hectares of mangrove forests over the next 5 years to restore habitats and mitigate climate change. However, if not properly planned, such actions have the potential to fail. This paper outlines a transdisciplinary plan for mangrove restoration based on strong scientific principles.

    Published May 2022
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  • Peatland restoration as an affordable nature-based climate solution with fire reduction and conservation co-benefits in Indonesia

    Zu Dienle Tan, Roman Carrasco, Sigit Sutikno, David Taylor
    Environmental Research Letters

    Decisions over restoration must balance limited resources, land constraints, and competing demands. Peatlands in Southeast Asia have been heavily impacted by agricultural expansion over the past three decades, with Indonesia now accounting for a substantial proportion of degraded tropical peatlands globally. The results, although indicative, support tropical peatland restoration as a cost-efficient strategy for mitigating climate change, reducing fire, conserving biodiversity, and supporting sustainable development that can be offset by carbon prices of USD 2–37/Mg CO2e.

    Published May 2022
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  • Blue carbon as a natural climate solution

    Peter I. Macreadie, Micheli D. P. Costa, Trisha B. Atwood, Daniel A. Friess, Jeffrey J. Kelleway, Hilary Kennedy, Catherine E. Lovelock, Oscar Serrano, Carlos M. Duarte
    Nature Reviews Earth Environment

    Blue carbon ecosystems (BCEs) store carbon and provide co-benefits such as coastal protection and fisheries enhancement. Blue carbon sequestration has therefore been suggested as a natural climate solution. This review examines the potential for BCEs to act as carbon sinks and the opportunities to protect or restore ecosystems for this function.

    Published November 2021
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  • A meta-analysis of the ecological and economic outcomes of mangrove restoration

    Jie Su, Daniel A. Friess, Alexandros Gasparatos
    Nature Communications

    Mangrove restoration has become a popular strategy to ensure the critical functions and economic benefits of this ecosystem. This study conducts a meta-analysis of the peer-reviewed literature on the outcomes of mangrove restoration.

    Published August 2021
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  • Large conservation opportunities exist in >90% of tropic-subtropic coastal habitats adjacent to cities

    Tessa Mazor, Daniel A.Friess, Peter A.Todd, Danwei Huang,  Nhung T.H.Nguyen, Megan I.Saunders, Rebecca K.Runting, Ryan J.Lowe, PaulaCartwright, James P.Gilmour, Catherine E.Lovelock
    One Earth

    Coastal areas are urbanizing rapidly, currently supporting >40% of the world's population. Yet, coastal cities are facing greater vulnerability to climate-change-related hazards, causing significant social and economic disruptions. Investing in the protection of existing coastal habitats is considered a low-cost nature-based solution with co-benefits for society and biodiversity. This study examines the global applicability of this solution across 5,096 coastal urban areas in tropical and subtropical regions.

    Published July 2021
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  • Nature-based engineering: a review on reducing coastal flood risk with mangroves

    Rik Gijsman, Erik M. Horstman, Daphne van der Wal, Daniel A. Friess, Andrew Swales, Kathelijne M. Wijnberg
    Frontiers in Marine Science

    Integration of mangroves in projects to reduce coastal flood risk is increasingly being recognised as a sustainable and cost-effective alternative. The implementation of mangroves in flood risk reduction, however, remains complex. This paper reviews existing evidence, monitoring techniques and modelling approaches from the viewpoint of mangrove functionality and persistence.

    Published July 2021
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  • Global potential and limits of mangrove blue carbon for climate change mitigation

    Yiwen Zeng, Daniel A.Friess, Tasya Vadya Sarira, Kelly Siman, Lian Pin Koh
    Current Biology

    Despite the outsized role of mangrove forests in sustaining biodiversity, ecosystem function, and local livelihoods, the protection of these vital habitats through blue carbon financing has been limited. This paper quantifies the extent of this missed conservation and financial opportunity, showing that the protection of ∼20% of the world’s mangrove forests (2.6 Mha) can be funded through carbon financing.

    Published April 2021
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  • Future carbon emissions from global mangrove forest loss

    Maria F. Adame, Rod M. Connolly, Mischa P. Turschwell, Catherine E. Lovelock, Temilola Fatoyinbo, David Lagomasino, Liza A. Goldberg, Jordan Holdorf, Daniel A. Friess, Sigit D. Sasmito, Jonathan Sanderman, Michael Sievers, Christina Buelow, J. Boone Kauffman, Dale Bryan-Brown, Christopher J. Brown
    Global Change Biology

    Mangroves have among the highest carbon densities of any tropical forest. Incorporating mangroves into Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement and their valuation on carbon markets requires predicting how the management of different land-uses can prevent future greenhouse gas emissions and increase CO2 sequestration. This paper integrates comprehensive global datasets for carbon stocks, mangrove distribution, deforestation rates, and land-use change drivers into a predictive model of mangrove carbon emissions.

    Published February 2021
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  • Leaf litter decomposition in tropical freshwater swamp forests is slower in swamp than non-swamp conditions

    Weng Ngai Lam, Jun Jie Lian, Pin Jia Chan, Ying Ying Ting, Rie Chong, Nur Estya Rahman, Lorraine Wen Ai Tan, Qian Yi Ho, Sorain J. Ramchunder, Kelvin S.-H. Peh, Yixiong Cai, Kwek Yan Chong

    Decomposition is a key ecosystem function, and the rate of decomposition in forests affects their carbon storage potentials. Processes and factors determining leaf litter decomposition rates in dry-land and temperate forests are well understood, but these are generally poorly studied in tropical wetland forests, especially freshwater swamp forests (FSF). This study collected leaf litter from swamp and non-swamp tree species in a tropical FSF in Singapore and monitored the decomposition rates of these in swamp and non-swamp plots for a period of eight months.

    Published January 2021
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  • Protecting irrecoverable carbon in Earth’s ecosystems

    Allie Goldstein, Will R. Turner, Seth A. Spawn, Lian Pin Koh et al.
    Nature Climate Change

    Avoiding catastrophic climate change requires rapid decarbonization and improved ecosystem stewardship. To achieve the latter, ecosystems should be prioritized by responsiveness to direct, localized action and the magnitude and recoverability of their carbon stores. This paper shows that a range of ecosystems contain ‘irrecoverable carbon’ that is vulnerable to release upon land use conversion and, once lost, is not recoverable on timescales relevant to avoiding dangerous climate impacts.

    Published March 2020
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