King Center on Global Development
Department of Earth System Science
Alison Hoyt is an assistant professor of Earth system science at Stanford. Her work focuses on understanding how biogeochemical cycles respond to human impacts, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable and least understood carbon stocks in the tropics and the Arctic. For more information, please visit her group website here.
King Center Supported Research
2021 - 2022 Academic Year | Junior Faculty Research Grant
Mapping Peat Carbon to Inform Climate-friendly Rural Development in Colombia
Peatland conservation is a priority for climate change mitigation because peat soils contain roughly the same amount of carbon as all forms of terrestrial vegetation. Currently, two knowledge barriers hinder the formulation of sustainable development policies for peatlands. The first is geophysical: we lack a comprehensive understanding of the spatial distribution and carbon stocks of peat deposits, as they are typically found in remote tropical forested regions. The second is socioeconomic: we lack knowledge on sustainable uses of tropical peatlands that avoid large carbon emissions from land-use change. These knowledge limitations coincide with a historic conservation challenge in Colombia - deforestation of rural areas has accelerated dramatically following the end of a multi-decade civil conflict, in one of the most peatland-rich tropical countries. There is an urgent need to develop a carbon-based and socially-informed conservation plan in Colombia that avoids carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from peatland degradation while alleviating rural poverty. In this project we propose two research activities. First, we will sample two carbon-rich regions of Colombia to build improved maps of peatland area and carbon stocks. Second, we will conduct semi-structured interviews with indigenous and conflict-affected communities living within peatland areas to document local peatland uses and values. Together, these results will provide an empirical foundation for carbon conservation planning and sustainable peatland development in Colombia. This approach will also serve as a model for other peatland-rich tropical countries.