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DR FRANK VAN VEEN

Professor of Ecology and Conservation

My scientific background is in community ecology and for much of my career I have studied how species’ populations affect each-other through the network of ecological interactions between them. For example, we have shown that the loss of one species can indirectly lead to the extinction of others, which can lead to a domino effect of extinction cascades; while with colleagues in South Africa, we have also used these network-level concepts to quantify the ecosystem services (pollination, pest control) and dis-services (source of pests) from natural vegetation in conservation areas to tropical fruit crops in a multi-use landscape, to provide the evidence base for better co-management.


Currently, much of my work is focussed on tropical peatlands in Indonesia, which in their natural state harbour high biodiversity with many unique species and store huge quantities of carbon. When deforested and degraded, these peatlands however turn into major sources of carbon emissions and become prone to wild fires with wide-spread health and economic impacts. I lead an interdisciplinary UK/Indonesian consortium that aims to fill natural- and social-science knowledge gaps to support Indonesian governmental and non-governmental partners in their aims to restore vast areas of degraded peatland in the context of sustainable economic development.