Bekah Puttick

“Forest restoration in degraded tropical forest landscapes: facilitating restoration towards joint biodiversity, climate change, and social outcomes” 

Twitter: @rebekahputtick; Email:; LinkedIn:

Key Themes: Anthropocene, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Forest Health, Landscape Connectivity, Modelling, Plant-Animal Interactions, Remote Sensing, Restoration. 

Tropical forests are not only experiencing the highest levels of habitat conversion compared with any other biome, they are also experiencing rapid deforestation and extensive, ongoing habitat fragmentation. The predominant driver of this historically significant period of deforestation has been the global expansion of commercial agriculture and agribusiness, which itself has been fundamentally driven by increasing global demands for products derived from oil palm, soybeans, and cattle. The consequences of such degradation are multi-faceted, entailing consequences for both society and nature alike. The loss and degradation of tropical forest landscapes entails inherent negative impacts on biodiversity, climate regulation, and social well-being. Considering this, it is imperative that efforts are made to regenerate and restore tropical forest landscapes, ensuring the preservation of biodiversity, opportunity for carbon sequestration, and security for both rural and urban societies. Large-scale forest restoration is emerging as a route by which this degradation may be remedied. Restoration can critically contribute to the conservation of biodiversity through increasing habitat cover and landscape connectivity. Restoring forests is also considered as a significant climate change mitigation opportunity when executed across large spatial scales. Further to this, restoration can produce additional co-benefits such as the provision of socially and economically important ecosystem services including flood control, water supply, and soil maintenance.

My research, conducted in collaboration with the Sarawak Oil Palm Board (SOPB), will aim to develop a restoration strategy for a dedicated case study area situated near the Murum Dam, in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. The research will take a three-pronged approach framed around the potential biodiversity, carbon, and social outcomes of tropical forest restoration within the Murum conservation area. Each of these framings represents a possible objective for restoration, however in certain contexts the priorities of each may need to be balanced or indeed compromised with the competing needs of other objectives. By considering each of these three framings simultaneously, I hope to develop a holistic conceptual restoration strategy that accounts for each of these aims within a post-oil palm landscape.”