The challenge

Tropical forests are critical for supporting human life. Their wide range of biodiversity allows them to provide foodstuffs, fibres, and medicines, filter and control water flow, and remove and store carbon from the atmosphere, helping to regulate climate change.

Despite their importance tropical forests are increasingly under threat from deforestation, conversion to farmland and the impacts of our changing climate. By improving our understanding of how both forests and people adapt to environmental pressures we can ensure that forests continue to mitigate climate change and provide all the other ecosystem services we rely on.

The research

The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) coordinates ROBIN (Role Of Biodiversity In climate change mitigatioN), a multinational project working towards better climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection in Latin America.

By developing decision-support tools for policy-makers, ROBIN provides an avenue through which biodiversity’s role in lessening climate change can be incorporated into land-use decisions. The tools take into account the different ways of managing forest carbon for their effectiveness, their unintended effects on other ecosystem services and their consequences for people and biodiversity.

One such tool, the ‘QUICKScan’ Decision Support Tool, provides a rapid assessment of policy options and their environmental and socioeconomic ramifications. It is therefore invaluable to a wide range of groups including researchers, policy-makers, resource managers, NGOs and other stakeholders.

UKCEH also undertakes the complex modelling for ROBIN, thus providing an integrated understanding of key social and ecological processes. Read more about the ROBIN project here.

The outcomes

ROBIN is a vital resource for policies that lessen climate change and protect biodiversity. As well as providing indicators to the Convention on Biological Diversity, ROBIN will also produce practical guidance for natural resource managers in Latin America that can provide for their economic growth without compromising the forests’ carbon storage.

The key products from ROBIN will include:

  • new maps showing, for example, the current distribution of some fundamental biodiversity indicators and the potential contribution of biodiversity to climate change mitigation under predicted scenarios.
  • tools for assessing the value of biodiversity in climate change mitigation, decision-support tools for local and national implementation of REDD+ or similar Payment for Ecosystem Services schemes, and tools for improved carbon and biodiversity monitoring.
  • improved methods for monitoring carbon and biodiversity indicators, and enhanced biodiversity-based climate change mitigation solutions that can incorporate trade-offs with other ecosystem services.

Through ROBIN, UKCEH works to ensure increased storage of carbon in forests and multi-functional landscapes, decreased rates of biodiversity loss and due consideration to other ecosystem services involved in human wellbeing.

ROBIN at the European Parliament


The outcomes of the ROBIN project are timely, relevant and examplary.

Kurt Vandenberghe
Directorate-General for Research & Innovation, European Commission


I’m quite convinced that...nature-based solutions...are the most cost-effective ways to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. So I’m very happy that the ROBIN project seems to confirm what I’ve been saying, and this shows how important projects like ROBIN are in underpinning our policy, to really make this case in the European Union.

Stefan Leiner
Directorate-General for Environment, European Commission


European policy-makers and natural resource managers in Latin America


Decision-support tools and methods to quantify climate change and biodiversity


Improved processes for land-use decision-making that incorporate biodiversity and climate change

PDF version - Carbon capture in tropical forests