Matthew Hethcoat, PhD

About my research

jayMy research interests are generally focused on the consequences of rapid land use changes to populations and systems. My Master’s work involved understanding how habitat fragmentation associated with hydraulic fracturing altered a predator-prey system in western North America. This work was published in 2015 in the journals Biological Conservation and the Journal of Applied Ecology. My current work in the Edwards lab will involve using very high resolution satellite imagery, in conjunction with additional improved technologies, to map and quantify the global extent of selectively logged tropical forests.

The exploitation of wood resources from Earth’s tropical forests has severe implications for global climate change, local populations and biodiversity. In response, the United Nations (UN) has developed a number of initiatives aimed at mitigating global climate change and biodiversity losses via improved forest management practices. Deforestation and forest degradation accounted for nearly one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions in recent decades and the UN anticipates payments to tropical nations under these initiatives could reach $30 billion annually. Much of our understanding about large scale land-use change relies on satellite data, which can accurately detect deforestation. However, detecting forest degradation from selective logging is poorly developed because the necessary attributes of forest structure have been difficult to measure with historically available data. This is a particularly important knowledge gap, given that over 400 million hectares of tropical rainforest – an area the size of the European Union – is in the tropical timber estate. Newly available satellite data, however, offer a means to address this problem through the development of new methodologies.

This project is in collaboration with The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures and is co-supervised by Shaun Quegan from the Centre for Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics.

Click HERE for my C.V.

About me
Life’s loves: natural history, rock climbing, avian ecology, sleeping in hammocks, good food, American IPAs, punk rock music, people who don’t care what others think

Twitter: @mghethcoat