Professor Susan Page

Professor of Physical Geography

Profile

Professor Susan Page’s research focuses on peatland ecosystems, both in the UK and the tropics, focusing on peatland land use and management, including consequences for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and land subsidence. She has been a partner in several multinational research programmes and is currently investigating the environmental impacts of agricultural land uses on peat soils, including the burdens caused by peat fires in Indonesia. She has a strong interest in opportunities for climate change mitigation that ensure beneficial outcomes for people and planet. 

Professor Page applies multidisciplinary geographical approaches to developing more responsible management of global peatlands. This requires a more in depth understanding of the trade-offs between environmental impacts and social and economic development. This has involved working with rural communities in several parts of Indonesia and in the UK in an effort to reduce peatland carbon losses and greenhouse gas emissions, whilst also determining pathways for livelihood security under improved peatland management. 

Research

I am an ecologist by training with research interests in wetland ecology and functioning and wildlife conservation. My current research primarily focuses on tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia, but I m also involved in research projects on peatlands in South America, Central Africa, and the Fens of eastern England.

Many people still find it hard to believe that there are extensive peatlands in the tropical zone: after all, peat bogs are usually associated with the cool, wet, midge-infested regions of the north! There are approximately 450 km2 of peatlands in the tropics, mainly located in Indonesia and Malaysia, but also in South and Central America and central Africa.

In an undisturbed condition, peatlands in Southeast Asia support peat swamp forest, which provides a habitat for a number of rare and endangered species. Underground, the thick peat layers, accumulated over thousands of years and often exceeding a thickness of 10 m, store enormous amounts of carbon. Globally, tropical peatlands store ~120 billion tonnes of carbon and perform other important environmental and landscape functions (e.g. flood mitigation, wildlife habitat maintenance and livelihood support).

My research on tropical peatlands began in 1993 in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. From 1998 onwards, I have been a partner in various collaborative research programmes investigating the ecology, biodiversity, natural resource functions and carbon dynamics of these systems. Increasingly, my research has focused on the role of tropical peatlands in the global carbon cycle, and the impact of forest fires and land use change. Interest in tropical peatlands in South America and Central Africa has been enhanced by collaborations with Dr Outi Lahteenoja (formerly at University of Turku in Finland) and Dr Greta Dargie and Prof Simon Lewis (University of Leeds).

Throughout my career I have become increasingly aware of the value of converting scientific knowledge into policy and practice. This transfer of expertise and experience has led to inputs as a Lead Author for IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories, and as an advisor to plantation companies and government agencies in SE Asia.

Closer to home, I collaborate with a School research team focused on the fenlands of Eastern England. FenFlux is led by Dr Joerg Kaduk. The focus is on comparing the carbon balance of natural fenland versus rewetting pastures and agricultural peatland using eddy covariance techniques. We also study aeolian fluxes arising from 'fen blows'.

Publications

Page, S., Rieley, J.O. & Banks, C.J. (accepted) Global and regional importance of the tropical peatland carbon pool. Global Change Biology.

Page, S.E., Wüst, R. and Banks, C. (2010) Past and present carbon accumulation and loss in Southeast Asian peatlands. PAGES News, 18 (1), 25-26.

Hooijer, A., Page, S., Canadell, J.G., Silvius, M., Kwadijk, J., Wösten, H. & Jauhiainen, J. (2010) Current and future CO2 emissions from drained peatlands in Southeast Asia. Biogeosciences, 7, 1505-1514.

Page, S.E., Hoscilo, A., Wosten, H., Jauhiainen, J., et al. (2009) Restoration ecology of lowland tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia – Current knowledge and future research directions. Ecosystems 12: 888–905

Page, S.E., Hoscilo, A., Langner, A., Tansey, K.J., Siegert, F., Limin, S. & Rieley, J.O. (2009) Chapter 9: Tropical peatland fires in Southeast Asia. In: Cochrane, M.A. (ed) Tropical Fire Ecology: Climate Change, Land Use and Ecosystem Dynamics. Springer-Praxis, Heidelberg, Germany.

Tansey, K., J. Beston, A. Hoscilo, S. E. Page, and C. U. Paredes Hernández (2008) Relationship between MODIS fire hot spot count and burned area in a degraded tropical peat swamp forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. J. Geophys. Res., 113, D23112, doi:10.1029/2008JD010717.

Rieley, J.O., Wüst, R.A.J., Jauhiainen, J., Page, S.E., Wösten, H., Hooijer, A., Siegert, F., Limin, S., Vasander, H. And Stahlhut, M. (2008) Tropical peatlands: Carbon stores, carbon gas emissions and contribution to climate change processes. In: Laine, J. et al. (eds) Peatlands and Climate Change. International Peat Society, pp. 129-162.

Wosten, J.H.M, Clymans, E., Page, S.E., & Limin, S.H. (2008) Interrelationships between peat and water in a tropical peatland ecosystem in Southeast Asia. Catena 73: 212-224 (doi: 10.1016/j.catena.2007.07.010).

Phillips, M., Page, S., Saratsi, E., Tansey, K. & Moore, K. (2008) Diversity, scale and green landscapes in the gentrification process: Traversing ecological and social science perspectives. Journal of Applied Geography, 28, 54-76 (doi: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2007.07.003).

Page, S.E. and Banks, C.J. (2007) Tropical peatlands: Distribution, extent and carbon storage – uncertainties and knowledge gaps. Peatlands International 2007 (2), pp. 26-27.

Page, S.E., Rieley, J.O. and Hoscilo, A. (2007) A burning issue: Tropical peatlands and fire. Peatlands International 2007 (2), pp. 28-29.

Page, S.E., Rieley, J.O. and Wüst, R. (2006) Lowland tropical peatlands of Southeast Asia. In: Martini, P., Martinez-Cortizas, A. & Chesworth, W. (eds) Peatlands: basin evolution and depository of records on global environmental and climatic changes. Elsevier, Amsterdam (Developments in Earth Surface Processes series). Chapter 7.

Hooijer, A., Silvius, M., Wösten, H. and Page, S.E. (2006). PEAT-CO2, Assessment of CO 2 emissions from drained peatlands in SE Asia. Delft Hydraulics report Q3943 (2006). 41 p.

Rieley, J.O. and Page, S.E. (editors) (2005) Wise Use Guidelines for Tropical Peatlands. Alterra, Wageningen, The Netherlands. 237 p. ISBN 90327-0347-1

Page, S.E., Wuest, R., Weiss, D., Rieley, J, Shotyk, W., Limin, S.H. (2004) A record of Late Pleistocene and Holocene carbon accumulation and climate change from an equatorial peat bog (Kalimantan, Indonesia): implications for past, present and future carbon dynamics. Journal of Quaternary Science, 19(7), 625-635.

Siegert, F., Zhukov, B., Oertel, D., Limin, S., Page, S.E., Rieley, J.O. (2004) Peat fires detected by the BIRD satellite. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 25 (6), 3221-3230.

Morrogh-Bernard, H., Husson, S., Page, S.E. and Rieley, J.O. (2003) Density, distribution and population size of the Bornean orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus) in a peat swamp forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Biological Conservation, 110, 141-152.

Page, S.E. , Siegert, F., Rieley, J.O., Boehm, H-D.V., Adi Jaya and Suwido Limin (2002) The amount of carbon released from peat and forest fires in Indonesia in 1997. Nature, 420, 61-65.

Weiss, D., Shotyk, W., Rieley, J.O., Page, S.E., Gloor, M., Reese, S. and Cortizas-Martinez, A. (2002) The geochemistry of major and selected trace elements in a forested peat bog, Kalimantan, SE-Asia, and its implications for past atmospheric dust deposition. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 66(13), 2307-2323

Supervision

Research areas

  • Peatland ecosystems – temperate and tropical
  • GHG mitigation from peatlands under agriculture
  • Peat and forest ecosystem restoration
  • Peatland ecosystem services

I am interested in supervising students on the following topics:

  • Impact of fire on tropical peatland ecosystem functions and recovery
  • Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from drained peatlands
  • Peatland restoration
  • Peatland ecosystem services and their valuation

Current students

  • Matthew Payne - Role of oil palm plantation development on forest degradation in Peru (with Dr K Barrett)
  • Thomas Newman - Greenhouse gas emissions and aeolian C fluxes from degrading agricultural peatlands in eastern England (with Dr J Kaduk)
  • Carla Gomez (based at the Open University) - Cycling of powerful greenhouse gases in tropical wetland trees (with Professor V Gauci and Dr K Olsson-Francis)
  • Kampanat Deeudomchan - Carbon stock assessment in Thailand from satellite remote sensing (with Professor H Balzter)
  • Valentin Louis – ‘Remote sensing of forest and plantation dynamics’ (with Professor H Balzter)
  • Akihito Kono – ‘Effect of sectoral policies and institutional coordination on forests and sustainable forest management in the context of REDD+’ (with Dr C Upton)
  • Wayne Murphy – ‘Role of Amazonian peatlands in carbon storage and greenhouse gas emissions’ (with Dr A Boom & Dr J-C Berrio and Dr Yit Arn Teh, University of Aberdeen)

Completed students

  • Matthew Kent (based at the Open University) – DOC dynamics of tropical peatlands (with Professor V Gauci, Open University and Professor C Evans, CEH)
  • Alex Cumming – The greenhouse gas balance of fenland used for agriculture (with Professor H Balzter, CLCR and Dr J Kaduk)
  • Sara Thornton – Ecosystem and cultural values of peat swamp forest fish in Central Kalimantan (with Dr C Upton)
  • Sarah Cook - Fluvial carbon losses from oil palm plantations on peatlands in SE Asia (with Dr M Whelan, Professor V Gauci, Open University and Professor C Evans, CEH)
  • Gong Pan – The greenhouse gas balance of a restoring fenland (with Professor H Balzter & Dr J Kaduk)
  • Greta Dargie (based at University of Leeds) - Tropical peatlands and carbon storage in the Congo Basin (with Professor Simon Lewis, University of Leeds)
  • Zamzam Hassan - Species and microclimate spatial modelling in peat swamp forest, Brunei (with Dr C Jarvis)
  • Bashar Dahdal - The use of interferometric spaceborne radar and GIS to measure ground subsidence from peat soils in Indonesia (with Professor K Tansey and Professor H Balzter).
  • Laura Graham - Restoration from Within - Developing Restoration Action Plans Through Ecological and Community Knowledge in Kalimantan, Indonesia (with Professor J Pickerill).
  • Gabriel Eshun - Community participation in natural resource management and ecotourism development in Ghana (with Dr C Madge).
  • Agata Hoscilo - The role of fire in the land use dynamics and restoration of tropical peatlands: developing techniques to assess post-fire vegetation recovery, fire risk and the emission of greenhouse gases (with Professor K Tansey).
  • Shujaul Khan – Phytosociological and ethnobotanical studies in the Naran Valley, Pakistan (with Professor D Harper, Dept. Biological Sciences)
  • Outi Lähteenoja – Amazonian peatlands (visiting PhD student from the University of Turku, Finland)
  • Leanne Milner – Effects of fire on the biogeochemistry of tropical peatland (with Dr A Boom)
  • Kate Moore - Indigenous spatial literacy to inform participatory GIS in wildlife conservation (with Dr C Madge).
  • Ross Morrison – The carbon balance of a restoring fenland (with Professor H Balzter and Dr J Kaduk)
  • Sam Moore (based at the Open University) – Dissolved organic carbon losses from natural and degraded tropical peatlands (with Dr V Gauci, Open University and Professor C Evans, CEH)
  • Dr Tetsuya Shimamura – JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow – Biodiversity and carbon dynamics in tropical peat swamp forest
  • Matthew Waldram – Tropical deforestation and the carbon cycle (with Professor K Tansey)

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