Risk and impact of forest fire on biodiversity and carbon emissions in Nepal

Grantham Scholar Dharma Sapkota researches wildfires, biodiversity and carbon emission in tropical and subtropical forests.


My research is focused on assessing the risk and impact of wildfire on biodiversity and carbon emission in tropical and subtropical forests. I will do this through a global level data analysis and by conducting fieldwork in Nepal.  


Tropical forests contain most of the globe’s biodiversity. They cover only seven percent of the world’s surface, but they support two-thirds of the world’s species. 

And tropical forests are also key for carbon storage. It is estimated that half of the world’s carbon is contained in their above-ground biomass. 

Despite these key roles, tropical forest ecosystems are being lost and degraded at a higher rate than any other forest type. As a result, topical forests are the epicentre of current and future extinctions due to anthropogenic activities. Further, this loss of tropical forests contributes to ten percent of global CO² emissions. And such emissions are gradually turning tropical forests from a carbon sink to a carbon source. 

Forest fires

The primary driver of forest loss and degradation is fire. The negative impact of tropical forest fires on biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions are recognised by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES, 2019), the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and the UNFCC REDD+ programHowever, forest fires and their impacts are complex and incompletely understood. My research aims to fill some of the gaps in our current understanding of forest fires on tropical forests.

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