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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.

  • Large-scale reforestation can increase water yield and reduce drought risk for water-insecure regions in the Asia-Pacific

    Hoong Chen Teo, Srivatsan V. Raghavan, Xiaogang He, Zhenzhong Zeng, Yanyan Cheng, Xiangzhong Luo, Alex M. Lechner, Matthew J. Ashfold, Aakash Lamba, Rachakonda Sreekar, Qiming Zheng, Anping Chen, Lian Pin Koh
    Global Change Biology

    Large-scale reforestation can potentially bring both benefits and risks to the water cycle, which needs to be better quantified under future climates to inform reforestation decisions. Reforestation also reduces the probability of extremely dry months in most of the water-insecure regions. However, some regions experience nonsignificant declines in net water yield due to heightened evapotranspiration outstripping increases in precipitation, or declines in soil moisture and advected precipitation.

    Published November 2022
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  • Tropical and subtropical Asia's valued tree species under threat

    Hannes Gaisberger, Tobias Fremout, Lian Pin Koh, et al.
    Conservation Biology

    Tree diversity in Asia's tropical and subtropical forests is central to nature-based solutions. Species vulnerability to multiple threats, which affect provision of ecosystem services, is poorly understood. This paper conducted a region-wide, spatially explicit assessment of the vulnerability of 63 socioeconomically important tree species to overexploitation, fire, overgrazing, habitat conversion, and climate change.

    Published June 2022
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  • Co-benefits of forest carbon projects in Southeast Asia

    Tasya Vadya Sarira, Yiwen Zeng, Rachel Neugarten, Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Lian Pin Koh
    Nature Sustainability

    Forest carbon projects can deliver multiple benefits to society. Within Southeast Asia, 58% of forests threatened by loss could be protected as financially viable carbon projects, which would avoid 835 MtCO2e of emissions per year from deforestation, support dietary needs for an equivalent of 323,739 people annually from pollinator-dependent agriculture, retain 78% of the volume of nitrogen pollutants in watersheds yearly and safeguard 25 Mha of Key Biodiversity Areas.

    Published February 2022
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  • Habitat adaptation mediates the influence of leaf traits on canopy productivity: Evidence from a tropical freshwater swamp forest

    Weng Ngai Lam, Pin Jia Chan, Ying Ying Ting, Kwek Yan Chong et al.

    Functional traits offer generalizability to the prediction of ecosystem processes such as production, and community-weighted mean trait values are increasingly used for such predictions. However, the underlying causal direction between traits and ecosystem processes are often indirect and sometimes even tenuous. This study aims to uncover underlying causal mechanisms between traits, habitat adaptation and canopy productivity.

    Published September 2021
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  • Southeast Asia as one of world’s primary sources of biotic recolonization following Anthropocene extinctions

    Şerban Proches, Syd Ramdhani, Alice C. Hughes, Lian Pin Koh
    Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

    The plight of Southeast Asia’s animals, plants and ecosystems in the face of unsustainable exploitation and habitat destruction has been illustrated in several recent studies, despite often falling outside the global discourse on global conservation priorities. This paper collated biogeographic and phylogenetic information to argue that this beleaguered region is one of world’s primary macrorefugia, and possibly its best chance of regaining its natural biodiversity distribution patterns after the current Anthropocene upheaval.

    Published March 2021
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  • Carbon prospecting in tropical forests for climate change mitigation

    Lian Pin Koh, Yiwen Zeng, Tasya Vadya Sarira, Kelly Siman
    Nature Communications

    Carbon finance projects that protect tropical forests could support both nature conservation and climate change mitigation goals. Global demand for nature-based carbon credits is outpacing their supply, due partly to gaps in knowledge needed to inform and prioritize investment decisions. This paper shows that at current carbon market prices the protection of tropical forests can generate investible carbon amounting to 1.8 (±1.1) GtCO2e yr−1 globally, and financially viable carbon projects could generate return-on-investment amounting to $46.0b y−1 in net present value. However, ~80% (1.24 billion ha) of forest carbon sites would be financially unviable for failing to break even over the project lifetime. From a conservation perspective, unless carbon prices increase in the future, it is imperative to implement other conservation interventions, in addition to carbon finance, to safeguard carbon stocks and biodiversity in vulnerable forests.

    Published February 2021
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  • Global urban reforestation can be an important natural climate solution

    Hoong Chen Teo, Yiwen Zeng, Tasya Vadya Sarira, Tze Kwan Fung, Qiming Zheng, Xiao Ping Song, Kwek Yan Chong, Lian Pin Koh
    Environmental Research Letters

    The climate mitigation potential of urban nature-based solutions (NBSs) is often perceived as insignificant and thus overlooked, as cities primarily pursue NBSs for local ecosystem services. This paper modelled the global potential and limits of urban reforestation worldwide, and find that 10.9 ± 2.8 Mha of land (17.6% of all city areas) are suitable for reforestation, which would offset 82.4 ± 25.7 MtCO2e yr−1 of carbon emissions.

    Published February 2021
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  • Economic and social constraints on reforestation for climate mitigation in Southeast Asia

    Yiwen Zeng, Tasya Vadya Sarira, L. Roman Carrasco, Kwek Yan Chong, Daniel A. Friess, Janice Ser Huay Lee, Pierre Taillardat, Thomas A. Worthington, Yuchen Zhang, Lian Pin Koh
    Nature Climate Change

    As climate change continues to threaten human and natural systems, the search for cost-effective and practical mitigation solutions is gaining momentum. Reforestation has recently been identified as a promising nature-based climate solution. Yet there are context-dependent biophysical, financial, land-use and operational constraints to reforestation that demand careful consideration. This paper shows that 121 million ha of presently degraded land in Southeast Asia, a region noted for its significant reforestation potential, are biophysically suitable for reforestation.

    Published August 2020
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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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