Global engineering, design and sustainability consultancy Ramboll has today announced that biologist and Senior Research Associate Leonardo de Sousa Miranda of Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University has been selected as the winner of the 2023 Ramboll Foundation Award.
As part of the award, Miranda has received a prize of EUR 67,000 to support his research in assessing climate and land-use change impacts and identifying priority areas for biodiversity conservation and habitat restoration in the Amazon.
Miranda’s research seeks to integrate biodiversity conservation efforts with the existing restoration efforts in the Brazilian state of Pará, home to over 10% of the world's birds and a globally recognised biodiversity hotspot.
However, the ecology of the region is under threat from deforestation, which is damaging ecosystems and risks making species extinct. It has also resulted in significant greenhouse gas emissions, making Pará one of the highest-emitting states in Brazil.
In response, the state government of Pará has launched several plans to make the region carbon-neutral, including a large-scale reforestation project. Miranda’s work is helping to ensure that the reforestation also supports biodiversity conservation. Commenting on his research, Miranda said: “While the forest restoration is driven by climate change mitigation, my research has identified a unique opportunity to support biodiversity conservation in the region and enhance key ecosystem services related to forest cover, biodiversity, and water quality”.
A Local Project with Global Applications
Miranda’s innovative research methodology combines ecological and socio-economic factors to create comprehensive data that considers the financial aspects of restorations. This allows his findings to align with state policy, which should enhance the deployment and uptake of his research outcomes.
“We know that the lack of a tight link to policy limits the chances of evidence-based solutions being taken up and used on the ground”. By transforming academic knowledge into practical application, Miranda’s research is designed to create real-world impact. The decision-making support tool and database can assist various stakeholders in making informed decisions about forest restoration in Pará and beyond.
Importantly, Miranda’s research has the potential to serve as a model for similar regions worldwide looking to solve biodiversity conservation challenges and alleviate climate change impacts