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“Green Talent" from Zambia researches sub-Saharan tree growth in Bayreuth

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University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 097/2019, 9 August 2019

In 2018 he was one of the winners of the international "Green Talent" competition for early-career scholars, and now Brigadier Libanda from Zambia has been a guest of the University of Bayreuth for three months.  Together with PD Dr. Andreas Hemp, chair of Plant Systematics, he has advanced his research work on the dry forests of southern Africa - both in the laboratory and even in field research in the Franconian region.  "Green Talent" is a competition for sustainability research held annually by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.  The prize comprises a BMBF-funded research visit with a scientist of one's own choice at a university in Germany.

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Climate change in sub-Saharan Africa, and especially ever more intensive land use there, are already having a noticeable impact on the Miombo forests in the savannahs of southern Africa. These dry forests are valuable ecosystems that contribute significantly to biodiversity. They also prevent soil erosion, maintain hydrologic balance, and are a source of construction materials and fuels.

Nevertheless, traditional agriculture in these regions is not geared towards sustainability: To this day, large parts of the forests are cleared and burned merely to produce charcoal or ash fertilizer.  Unregulated grazing is also a problem. In order to develop new and sustainable concepts of land use, it is important to know how quickly the Miombo forests and their ecological functions can regenerate.

This is where Brigadier Libanda's research project comes in: As part of his doctoral thesis, he brings together the scientific data available to date, albeit widely scattered, and uses computational models to glean scientifically-based insights into the future growth of these forests. At the same time, he intends to find out how climate change is likely to affect the regions of the Miombo forests.

iconZoomOverlay

This is where Brigadier Libanda's research project comes in: As part of his doctoral thesis, he brings together the scientific data available to date, albeit widely scattered, and uses computational models to glean scientifically-based insights into the future growth of these forests. At the same time, he intends to find out how climate change is likely to affect the regions of the Miombo forests.

He is being supervised by PD Dr. Andreas Hemp, chair of Plant Systematics, who has specialised in the growth and biodiversity of the various forests of East Africa for many years. In research work in the unspoilt forests on the “Albtrauf”, Brigadier Libanda has now discovered new methods for obtaining data that can be used to characterise forests from an ecological point of view.

In addition, he has been able to establish numerous scientific contacts in recent weeks - be they in climate research, environmental sciences, or African studies. "For me, the time I was able to spend on the University Campus was scientifically very intensive and stimulating. And, I also liked it very much here in Upper Franconia," says Libanda. He will soon return to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and back to Zambia after completing his dissertation, but will remain in close contact with ecology and environmental research at the University of Bayreuth.

Background:

Since 2009, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been inviting young scientists from the field of sustainability research to apply for the "Green Talent" award. Since then, more than 4,000 applications have been received from over 130 countries. Since then, the 232 successful applicants can rightly call themselves "Green Talents". They come from 64 different countries.

Contact:

PD Dr. Andreas Hemp
Plant Systematics
University of Bayreuth
E-Mail (preferred):
andreas.hemp@uni-bayreuth.de
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-2464


Editorial office:

Christian Wißler
Press Contacts
University of Bayreuth
Universitätsstr. 30 / ZUV
95447 Bayreuth
Germany
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356
E-mail: 
christian.wissler@uni-bayreuth.de

Translation:

Ralph Reindler

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