BALI is a multidisciplinary consortium that aims to explore the biogeochemical impacts of tropical forest degradation, agricultural conversion and biodiversity loss.

At a glance

  • DatesOctober 2013 - September 2018
  • SponsorNERC
  • Funded£4.6 million
  • PartnersUniversity of Aberdeen; University of Manchester; University of Cambridge; Centre for Ecology and Hydrology; University of Edinburgh; University of Lancaster; University of Liverpool; Natural History Museum; University of Oxford; University of York; NCAS.
    International Partners:
    National University of Singapore; James Cook University; Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Forestry Department, Forest Research Centre, Sabah Forestry Department; South East Rainforest Research Programme (SEARRP); Carnegie Institution for Science; Face the Future; Universiti Malaysia Sabah; Malaysian Palm Oil Board; Nagoya University; New Forests; SEARRP; WMO; Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; MET Malaysia.

The project aims to understand:

  • how land-use change in Malaysian Borneo has altered the functional diversity of tropical forest ecosystems;
  • the consequences of these changes in functional diversity for biogeochemical cycling and trace gas exchange;
  • the wider implications of these human perturbations for biogeochemical cycling and atmospheric composition at the landscape-scale.

Using a traits-based approach, researchers are exploring the links between functional diversity and biogeochemistry across different scales. Empirical observations, manipulative experiments, and analysis of long-term datasets will be employed to investigate how focal biodiversity groups respond to anthropogenic forcing, and the implications this has for ecosystem functioning. Experiments and observations are used to develop and test trait-based process modelling of ecosystem function. Advanced airborne remote sensing techniques are linked to the process-based modelling to integrate plot-level measurements and extrapolate our findings to larger scales.

Cranfield scientists are working with colleagues from the University of Cambridge to study the emissions of isoprene from different parts of the tropical forest to investigate how the traits and the land use changes influence the emission of this reactive gas to the atmosphere. Once in the atmosphere, isoprene is oxidised forming ozone and particles in the process.

Further Information

The focus of the work to date has been to measure isoprene concentrations in the natural forest and in palm oil plantations. The expected high levels have been observed with concentrations up to 10x higher in the palm oil plantations.