On Friday 6th March, students from the Environmental Science for Environmental Management module in the School of Earth and Environment came together to present their research to each other and professionals working in the environment sector.
The afternoon saw a wide range of topics discussed on three main themes: ‘Water and Flood Management’, ‘Woodlands, Agriculture and Carbon Management’, and ‘Urban Ecosystem Services’.
The external attendees, who included local policy makers, academic researchers and environmental consultants, also gave presentations on their work, with insights into the opportunities their roles provide and the challenges they face.
Gail Gray from the Environment Agency gave the students an overview of the role that the EA plays as the country’s fourth emergency service. The EA’s remit is extremely broad; from issuing permits and dealing with radioactive material, to advising the fire service on environmentally safe courses of action.
Under the topic Water and Flood Management, the students presented their findings on managing natural coastal defences (e.g., coral reefs), proposals for hydroelectric power and preventing water pollution. This theme also included a proposal for reducing flooding in Malaysia through more sustainable land-use choices in the state of Pahang. Kevin Tilford, Director of Weetwood Environmental Consultants took the students through an example assessment of flood risk for a new development; if a development is found to increase flood risk in its or other locations, this assessment involves developing solutions such as detention basins and permeable paving to mitigate the risk.
On the theme of Woodlands, Agriculture and Carbon Management the students discussed proposals for incentivising sustainable forest management, the complexities of carbon offsetting, lessons learned from agri-environment schemes in the UK and the merits of peatland management as a climate change mitigation tool. The students also heard from Dr Dominick Spracklen on his research into the impacts of forests and deforestation. Dominick’s work ranges from understanding the amount of carbon stored in forests and their influence on rainfall patterns, to how vegetation affects the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Dominick also spoke about his role as Chief Scientific Advisor for the United Bank of Carbon, a not-for-profit organisation facilitating rainforest protection projects around the world.
For the topic Urban Ecosystems, the students presented their work on waste to energy opportunities, the management of urban green spaces and calculating the carbon footprint of urban areas. Dr Tom Knowland, the Head of Sustainable Energy and Climate Change at Leeds City Council, highlighted the complexity of, and opportunities presented by, improving energy efficiency and sustainability across a region as large and diverse as the Leeds City Region which is home to over 800,000 people.
Module leader Dr Stephen Whitfield commented, “The afternoon was a great showcase of the hard work that the students’ have put in over the past two semesters and a fantastic opportunity to hear from guests that are working in the environment sector in and around Leeds”.