International research agreement signed at COP26

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Liana forest in Gabon

Partners in an international conservation research project have signed a crucial scientific collaboration agreement at world climate summit COP26.

The agreement will underpin the multi-million pound forestLAB research hub, launched in October 2021, to explore conservation-led solutions for sustainable development in central Africa.

Launched by the University of Stirling in collaboration with the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (London School of Economics) and the African Conservation Development Group (ACDG), forestLAB will provide policymakers, investors and development practitioners with the data and tools required to create world-class models of natural ecosystems management that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. 

The research agreement signing took place on November 3, 2021, at COP26 in Glasgow, attended by representatives of forestLAB’s founding partners – the ACDG Group, the London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of Stirling.

ForestLAB partners hold their signed agreement
Representatives from ACDG, the University of Stirling and the LSE at the forestLAB signing agreement with Prof. Alfred Ngomanda, commissioner of CENAREST, and Minister Lee White, Gabon's Minister of Environment and Forestry. 

The vital role of forests in global carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation has been a central theme at COP26, with major announcements on forest financing and a commitment from over 100 nations to halt deforestation by 2030. With billions of dollars at stake, the importance of scientific research to analyse the impacts of climate change and mitigation measures will be critical. 

The University of Stirling has been working in Gabon for over 40 years and its station in Lopé National Park is deemed a ‘supersite’ for climate research, due to the importance of its unique long-term datasets.

Read about the forestLAB launch here

Professor of Tropical Ecology Katharine Abernethy, of the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, will lead the research, supported initially by Stirling colleagues Dr Kathryn Jeffery and Dr Robin Whytock, with additional staff and students to come on board over the coming years.

Professor Kate Abernethy
Professor Katharine Abernethy
Faculty of Natural Sciences
Collaborative forestLAB research will underpin social, environmental and economic benefits in Gabon as well as contribute to global sustainable futures.

Professor Abernethy said: “It was fantastic to sign this agreement with our research partners in person here at COP26, where the role of global forests in fighting climate change is being recognised. Gabon’s forests sequester so much more carbon that the country emits that Gabon is a very strong net carbon sink, storing billions of tonnes of carbon. This was recognised in June, when Gabon became the first African country to receive carbon payments, thanks to modelling supported by University of Stirling researchers.

“Collaborative forestLAB research will underpin social, environmental and economic benefits in Gabon as well as contribute to global sustainable futures.”

Professor Alfred Ngomanda, General Commissioner of CENAREST, said: “Through training programmes for our students and joint scientific research programmes, this agreement will help Gabon to strengthen its skills and knowledge in sustainable development.”

Speaking at the signing agreement, Alan Bernstein, CEO of ACDG stated: “We believe that the findings from forestLAB will have a real impact in fostering new scientific, technical and economic solutions to accelerate climate-smart development. forestLAB’s findings will thus concretely support the success of Gabon’s sustainable development strategy.”

ForestLAB is part of Scotland’s International Environment Centre at the University of Stirling, bringing together academic researchers and external partners from industry, government, and regional stakeholders. 

Visit Scotland's International Environment Centre website