I am a postgraduate researcher in the School of Geography, where I study the spatial distribution, carbon stocks and ecological diversity of tropical peatlands in Central Africa. Peatlands are exceptionally carbon-rich ecosystems that cover just 3% of Earth’s land surface, but store more than one-third of all soil carbon. Peat is formed by the build-up of partially decomposed organic matter under waterlogged anoxic conditions. Most peat is found in cool climatic regions where decomposition is slow, but peat deposits can also be found under some tropical swamp forests. Although most of the world's tropical peatlands are located in Southeast Asia, recent discoveries of large peat deposits in both the Peruvian Amazon and Central Africa show that peatland ecosystems of considerable size can be found across all tropical regions. Particularly the peatlands of the central Congo Basin, first described by Dargie et al. (2017), appear to be very large in terms of both spatial extent and carbon stocks. These peatlands are estimated to store more than 30 petagrams of carbon, equivalent to roughly three years of global fossil fuel emissions. However, the uncertainty in this estimate is large, and much is still unknown about the extent and functioning of this ecosystem. In my research project, I combine field data from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo with remotely sensed data from satellites to more accurately assess the spatial extent and carbon stocks of these peatlands. Via ground measurements and laboratory analysis of peat properties, I also assess their ecological and hydrological diversity. Ultimately, this will add crucial information on the presence of peatlands to local management plans, and may encourage the conservation of these carbon-rich ecosystems.
I am a member of the Priestley International Centre for Climate, and the Priestley Climate Scholars. Before coming to Leeds, I worked for several years as an environmental reporter for various Dutch and international media, with specific focus on climate change and tropical forests. I occasionally write about these topics as a freelance journalist or commentator, in particular the Congo Basin rainforest.
- MSc, Global change & ecosystems, Utrecht University (2015)
- BSc, Environmental sciences, University College Utrecht (2012)
- BA, Anthropology and Geography, University College Utrecht (2012)
Research groups and institutes
- Ecology and Global Change
- River Basin Processes and Management