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Science
THE MATERIAL WORLD
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Thursday 16:30-17:00
Quentin Cooper reports on developments across the sciences. Each week scientists describe their work, conveying the excitement they feel for their research projects.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 27 September 
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QUENTIN COOPER
Quentin Cooper
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Thursday 27 September 2007
Burning peat forest in Borneo, and Igapó in Brazil
Burning peat forests in Borneo, and Igapó in Brazil
Credit: Dr Florian Siegert / www.rssgmbh.de and Bruna Bezerra


Tropical Forest special

Quentin hears from biologists working in tropical forests across the world.

Borneo Burning
The peat forests of Central Kalimantan in Borneo are home to nearly half of the world’s orangutans, but a disastrous policy of clearing the trees to make way for rice paddies led to a collapse in their numbers. Now rice has made way for oil palms and illegal logging. Professor Jack Rieley of Nottingham University started studying the peat forests 25 years ago, and now is a leading activist in trying to preserve what’s left. And Simon Husson of Cambridge University has spent many of the last twelve years deep within the remaining forest, studying the ecology of the orangutans.

Amazon flooding
Deep in the heart of Amazonia, rivers flood the surrounding forests with up to 15 metres of stagnant water, so that some trees only just peak their tips above the surface. These drowned forests, or Igapo, are so impenetrable they’ve barely been studied. Primatologists Adrian Barnett and Bruna Bezerra are half way through a two year exploration of the region, focusing on the incredibly shy golden-backed uacari monkeys, with vice-like jaws that can break the hardest nuts.

NEXTWEEK:  Memory in a digital age and space traffic control...
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