University of Cambridge > > Climate Science Seminars within Cambridge > Tropical Forests and Climate Change: Biological and Anthropological Perspectives

Tropical Forests and Climate Change: Biological and Anthropological Perspectives

Add to your list(s) Download to your calendar using vCal

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Michelle Cain.

A panel bringing biologists and anthropologists together to discuss tropical forests and climate change.

Want to learn more about rainforests and their role in the climate change debate? From South America to Southeast Asia, tropical forests support vast webs of plant and animal life. Worlds of green light shrouded in memory and mist, they also store 25% of terrestrial carbon and play a vital role in maintaining the planet’s climate. As the human population grows, 12 million hectares of rainforest cover is lost each year – and with it medicine, food, and spiritual space for forest-dependent peoples.

How does ethnobiology relate to climate change? What significance do rainforest plants have for human cultures? Join us as we bring biologists and anthropologists together to discuss interdisciplinary approaches to these and other issues.


Dr. François Barbira-Freedman Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

Professor David Coomes Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge

Dr. Lewis Daly Teaching Fellow in Anthropology, Environment, and Development at University College London

Dr. Rajindra K. Puri Senior Lecturer in Environmental Anthropology, University of Kent

Wine and nibbles provided. This is a free event.

About the panelists:

Dr Françoise Barbira-Freedman has worked as a medical anthropologist at the University of Cambridge since she received her PhD in Social Anthropology in 1979. She has done extensive longitudinal field research In Western Amazonia on shamanism, medicinal plant use, maternal and child health and indigenous resurgence. After spending long periods of fieldwork in Peru, including two pregnancies and stays with her young family, she was inspired to share the gentle approach to parenting of her Amazonian hosts among friends in the UK. She also directs two outreach projects derived from her academic research, Birthlight, a registered UK charity and Ampika, a spin out company from the University of Cambridge.

Professor David Coomes is Head of the Forest Ecology and Conservation Group. Conserving the world’s dwindling biological diversity is one of the most pressing issues facing mankind. He leads a research group that is actively engaged in addressing these issues, as well as tackling more fundamental ecological questions. Focussing on forest conservation and ecology, his research uses large databases and modern computational approaches, alongside traditional field approaches.

Dr Lewis Daly completed his doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Oxford in 2015. His thesis, based on fieldwork with the Makushi people of Amazonian Guyana, concerned people-plant relationships in the indigenous culture and cosmology. Lewis’s research interests include ethnobotany, agro-ecological systems, crop varietal diversity, Amerindian perspectivism, and the politics of conservation (PES, REDD +, ecotourism). Lewis is currently working on an ethno-ornithological project concerning bird-based conservation with the NGO BirdLife International and the Ethno-ornithology World Archive (EWA) in Oxford. He is also collaborating with the Museu Goeldi (MPEG) in Belém, Brazil, on a project exploring the sensory ecology of shamanism in Amazonia.

Dr. Rajindra K. Puri is the Director of the Centre for Biocultural Diversity, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, Canterbury in addition to his role at UCL . He also convenes Kent’s Ethnobotany and Environmental Anthropology MSc programmes.

Trained as an ecological anthropologist and ethnobiologist, over the past 25 years Dr. Puri has been studying the historical ecology of a rainforest valley in Indonesian Borneo, documenting the ethnobiological knowledge of Penan Benalui hunter-gatherers and Kenyah swidden agriculturalists, elucidating the causes and consequences of trade in wild animals and plants, and developing theory and methods for an applied conservation anthropology. His recent work has been on local adaptation to climatic variability and environmental change in Asia and Europe. He was a co-investigator on the ESPA project Human Adaptation to Biodiversity Change, where he studied local adaptation to Lantana camera in the MM Hills, southern Karnataka. This work has drawn him into research on invasive species, and other ways changes in biodiversity due to climate change threaten biocultural diversity and local livelihoods. He is now thinking about how anthropologists can contribute to climate change science, and specifically developing mixed methods for studying local responses to environmental change.

This talk is part of the Climate Science Seminars within Cambridge series.

Tell a friend about this talk:

This talk is included in these lists:

Note that ex-directory lists are not shown.


© 2006-2023, University of Cambridge. Contact Us | Help and Documentation | Privacy and Publicity