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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  October 2017  /  Mat Disney’s new EC funding for tropical forest degradation experiment

Mat Disney’s new EC funding for tropical forest degradation experiment

Invited to explain terrestrial laser scanning method in French Guiana

Mat Disney’s new EC funding for tropical forest degradation experiment

Dr Mat Disney’s tropical lidar work has attracted new funding as part of a H2020 European Research Council award, FODEX: tropical forest degradation experiment, led by Dr. Ed Mitchard at Edinburgh University.

Mat's project will use about €250K of the €1.9M award budget. It will look at deliberately disturbed tropical forest in areas of Gabon and Peru to monitor their recovery and change over time, using a combination of field data, terrestrial lidar, new UAV lidar, and satellite data. The project starts in 2018 and will run for 4 years.

Mat explains:

"This is an important and very exciting experiment to look at the impacts of deliberate disturbance in tropical forests. Being able to control how they are disturbed and then monitoring this over time from multiple sources is unique, and will hopefully answer some very important questions about the fragility and resilience of tropical forests, which are under pressure from many directions, most of them man-made".

At school in French Guiana

In late September, Mat was also invited to spend a week in French Guiana at a Thematic School, "Remote Sensing for tropical biodiversity mapping and management across scales", explaining his terrestrial laser scanning work measuring tropical forest biomass and structure.

He also showed the first results of his recent trip with the NASA GEDI ( team to measure some of the tallest trees (and largest living organisms) on Earth, the sequoias of N. California.

The event was organised by Dr. Jérôme Chave, CNRS Toulouse, and Dr. Grégoire Vincent, IRD Montpellier, through the CEBA Centre for Study of Biodiversity in Amazonia (

The purpose was to give early-career researchers with a wide range of interests in tropical forest biodiversity a chance to work with experienced 'faculty', offering insights and suggestions as to how to develop their ideas using new observations and methods.

For Mat, the flow of ideas at the School developed very rapidly in new and unforeseen directions. The range of work taking place was impressive, and he came away with lots of new ideas to follow up!

There was also time for a visit to the Paracou field station, and even some lidar measurements … and the Kourou space centre even put on a spectacular launch of the Ariane 5 rocket!




Enjoying a behind the scenes tour of the control room of the Arianespace launch facility the day before launch!

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