South American forests provide vital benefits to their peoples, but are under threat from changing climate and deforestation – nowhere more so than at the Amazon southern flank in the vast Mato Grosso state. The challenge to rural communities here at the front line of climate change is huge.

This project aims to help Brazilian society to sustain and understand climate resilience of forests and useful trees in the vulnerable Amazon margins. AM-TRAN unites Leeds’ efforts in Amazon ecology with a leading state University in Brazil (UNEMAT), and a dynamic group of farmers wanting to restore forests and improve incomes (Rede de Sementes do Xingu). By co-ordinated protocol development and training and research activities the project develops understanding of how climate change threatens forests and species, and practical techniques to counter this.

The work will be centred on long-term ecological plots managed by the Brazilian partners, to ask:

  1. How are forests changing in response to climate change?
  2. Which species valuable to rural people might resist drought?
  3. How can monitoring plots help select species for climate-resilient reforestation?

We are aiming to enhance our plot networks to explore forest responses to climate change, and use tree rings to re-create past climate and better understand forest-carbon-climate links, as well as starting to identify useful trees most resilient to environmental change.