Charlotte awarded for work on habitat loss

UBoC PhD student Charlotte Weaver has been awarded ‘Best Best Brainstorming Presentation” for her work on the impact of large-scale bioenergy expansion on land use change and biodiversity.

From 18th – 21st October 2019, I attended the International Conference on Alternative Fuels, Energy and Environment (ICAFEE series) which was held at Feng Chia University (FCU), Taichung, Taiwan. I was thrilled to find out that I had won an award for my oral presentation in which I described my work looking at the global impacts of 2nd generation bioenergy expansion on biodiversity loss over the 21st century.

In this work I calculated the area of habitat loss that could occur due to different bioenergy expansion scenarios in major biodiversity hotspots across the globe, and thus the potential count of endemic species extinctions due to this loss. I also used a spatial overlap analysis to calculate the direct impacts of energy (and non-energy) cropland expansion on sites across the globe that contain critically endangered or endangered species.

The conference was a great opportunity to meet international academics and students also researching a variety of fields within bioenergy. I think my work was well received due to its broad outlook on bioenergy amongst many talks that spoke about how different biofuels could be made or used on a small scale. It was particularly great to see that there is a significant amount of research being done on the conversion of waste biomass to energy, although it is still uncertain to what scale this could be carried out in the future.

As shown in the IPCC predictions (and thus included in my work), 2nd generation purpose grown energy crops are expected to be needed for large scale energy demand in the pursuit of reaching a 1.5 or below warming target by 2100. Outside of the conference, I had a great time exploring all the night markets, temples, bubble tea and hot springs Taiwan has to offer.