Speaker: Dr Rodrigo Camara Leret, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
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New Guinea is the most mountainous and most biodiverse island in the world. Nearly 50% of its 16,000 plant species are endemic and in some families endemism surpasses 70%. Accordingly, understanding how biodiversity is distributed across the island, and how it will cope with increasing land use change and predicted climate change is important for coordinated conservation actions. However, New Guinea remains under-collected and little is known about the geography of endemism and extinction threat. New Guinea is at risk of logging and oil palm development, especially in the flat lowland regions. Past work has focused mostly on the eastern Papua New Guinea side, whereas the western Indonesian sector of the island, including its West Papua province still remains poorly studied. Despite the West Papuan governor and the heads of 12 West Papuan regions declaring West Papua as Indonesia’s first official Conservation Province in October 2015, West Papua has yet to employ an evidence-base approach to demarcating conservation areas and measuring complementarity between areas. Large-scale syntheses are thus essential for setting island-wide conservation priorities, and for evaluating the performance of protected areas under land use and climate change.
Dr Rodrigo Camara Leret is currently Early Career Research Fellow at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, responsible for developing Kew’s New Guinea research programme with a focus on identify priority areas for conservation in Indonesian New Guinea. He took his MSc at University of Leiden in 2008 on ecology of Andean forests and taxonomy of SE Asian plants, his PhD in 2014 at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid on quantitative ethnobotany of palms in South America and Postdocs at Aarhus University modelling the responses of Amazonian palms to soil nutrients (2015), and building capacity for e-taxonomy in the Flora of Thailand project (2016).