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International team of scientists to meet in Panama to discuss future of the world's forests

New citizen science model raises conciousness and makes massive data collection possible

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute


IMAGE: Water is critical for Panama Canal (background) operations. A huge experiment in the Panama Canal watershed quantifies carbon storage, biodiversity and water flow in pastureland, reforested land and mature tropical... view more

Credit: STRI

Leading researchers from around the world will meet in March at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama to discuss the first outputs from a global research program supported by the HSBC Climate Partnership1 to study the impact of climate change on the world's forests.

The conference, 'Taking Stock', co-hosted by STRI and the Earthwatch Institute, marks the mid-point of a five-year partnership which employs a unique participatory 'citizen science' model: HSBC employees are working alongside scientists to collect data from five distinct forest sites around the world (US, UK, Brazil, China, India).

At the conference researchers will describe findings that will directly contribute to the global understanding of forest ecosystems and the management of watersheds to quantify the environmental services--like water provision, carbon storage, and biodiversity maintenance--that tropical forests provide. The research is built on protocols that have been in place for more than 30 years and the latest analytical and technological advances.

WHEN: Media Day on March 1

WHO: Speakers from Earthwatch Institute, STRI, HSBC, Oxford University and more - for full event program visit

WHERE: The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's Earl S. Tupper Research and Conference Center, Panama City, Panama


  • Link to a live webcast of the conference starting 1 March from
  • Debut of a new film from STRI highlighting this unique NGO-corporate partnership
  • Q and A Panel discussion and opportunity for one to one interviews with researchers

Since the launch of the HSBC Climate Partnership in 2007, over 900 HSBC 'climate champions' have worked alongside experts from Earthwatch, STRI and local research partners, at forest plots around the world. This contribution is equivalent to 30 years of a scientist's time in the field. By the end of the partnership, over 2000 HSBC employees will have gone through the climate champion programme, helping to advance scientific knowledge and developing skills and knowledge to address the challenges of climate change in their business.

Dr. Dan Bebber, Head of Climate Change Research at Earthwatch says, "We are engaging thousands of HSBC employees in hands-on data collection alongside scientists from leading research institutes, to provide decision-makers with the information they need to manage our natural resources in the face of climate change."

STRI's Center for Tropical Forest Science, coordinates research efforts at 34 independent forest dynamics research plots worldwide. Director, Stuart Davies says, "To understand how global forests respond to climate change requires enormous datasets from on-the-ground measurements and observations from forests around the world. Aided by the enthusiasm of HSBC climate champions, our global network of forest-research plots is generating the crucial scientific data needed to predict forest response to climate change."

Francis Sullivan, Adviser on the Environment for HSBC Holdings plc says: "Through the HSBC Climate Partnership, we have deepened our understanding of the impacts of climate change across the world and have begun to address our own business response whilst working with our customers to realise the opportunities of the new green economy."


For a full schedule of events, visit

For more information about the HSBC Climate Partnership visit:

Download images at:

Press contact details

For information, images and to arrange interviews, please contact:
Earthwatch press office
International enquiries +44(0)7500 014769

Earthwatch Europe press office; +44 (0)1865 318820/ +44(0)1865 318852

Earthwatch Americas press office (until Friday 19 Feb); 978-450-1281

STRI press office
Spanish language media:
Monica Alvarado (703) 487-3770, ext. 8023 from the US or +507 212-8023 direct international or

English language media:
Beth King (703) 487-3770, ext. 8216 or +507 212-8216 or direct international

1Formed in 2007, the HSBC Climate Partnership brings together HSBC, the Climate Group, Earthwatch, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and WWF to tackle the urgent threat of climate change on people, water, forests and cities.

2New technologies, such as LIDAR flyovers to measure forest carbon stocks in both mature and secondary forests yield vastly more accurate figures for the role of forests in carbon capture.

Notes to editors

HSBC Climate Partnership

The HSBC Climate Partnership is a five-year partnership between HSBC, The Climate Group, Earthwatch, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and WWF. The partnership aims to combat the urgent threat of climate change by inspiring individuals, businesses and governments worldwide to tackle its impacts on people, forests, water and cities.

Achievements include:

  • In 2009, The Climate Group launched the Hong Kong Carbon Reduction Campaign - the first cross-industry effort promoting a low-carbon lifestyle to HSBC employees; co-founded the Mumbai Energy Alliance to implement large-scale energy efficiency projects to reduce the city's energy costs and carbon footprint; and convened Climate Week NYC, a high-profile platform for business, government and citizens to voice their support for a global deal in Copenhagen.
  • Since the launch of the HSBC Climate Partnership, Earthwatch has opened five Regional Climate Centres where, to date, almost 1000 HSBC Climate Champions have worked alongside leading scientists to investigate the impacts of climate change on forests and design workplace projects that help HSBC embed sustainable business practice.
  • The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has implemented a vast global field experiment encompassing nearly 2,000 ha of forest and 3.5 million trees. Across this area that spans 34 countries, STRI is studying the landscape at the scale of individual trees to quantify the benefits - such as carbon storage and water regulation - of forests in a changing climate.
  • WWF is working with the Chinese government to extend the work on the central and lower Yangtze Protected Area network to the entire Yangtze River. This will incorporate over 150 protected areas, and the network will be used to provide basin resilience to the impacts of climate change.


Earthwatch is an international environmental organisation whose mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.

Earthwatch Corporate Environmental Responsibility Group (CERG) is a platform for enhancing good practice amongst the business sector. CERG members benefit from: Networking and shared learning with other companies committed to good environmental practice; Stakeholder dialogue through report/policy feedback services and disseminating good practice through presentations at Earthwatch seminars.

Earthwatch works with companies that can demonstrate a commitment to improving environmental performance and has 20 corporate partners. Staff engagement and field programmes provide a multitude of opportunities to build environmental awareness and understanding.

As part of the HSBC Climate Partnership, Earthwatch is carrying out a programme of forest research in five locations worldwide. Research will determine how we can best manage forests to reduce the negative impacts of climate change.

Earthwatch and HSBC have developed the largest known employee engagement programme on climate change, which aims to motivate over 100,000 people to take action. The programme includes online learning, local volunteering projects and a two-week field programme on climate change and its implications for business.

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems.

The Center for Tropical Forest Science of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute monitors some of the most astonishing forests on the planet. The world's largest tropical forest research program, CTFS comprises a global network of large-scale, long-term studies that together track the growth and survival of more than 3 million tropical trees. For more information, visit

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