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Launch of GEO-TREES: From Ground to Space – The Future of Forest Carbon

Nature Positive Pavilion, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Watch live on YouTube 

During this event, the Smithsonian and its partners will launch the world’s first ground-based, equitably developed forest biomass reference system, designed to make global satellite-based forest carbon assessments actionable. This unprecedented multi-network collaboration will use innovative technology, partnerships and training, broad sampling and long-term commitment, and open-access data to provide the groundwork for devising strategies to mitigate climate change.


Featured Speakers

Ellen Stofan, Under Secretary for Science and Research, Smithsonian

Under Secretary Stofan oversees the science museums and science research centers as well as the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, Office of International Relations, Smithsonian Scholarly Press and Scientific Diving Program. Dr. Stofan previously was the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

As the former Chief Scientist of NASA, Stofan served as the principal advisor to the Administrator on science programs and strategic planning. Stofan held senior scientist positions at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Currently, she is on the science team of the NASA Dragonfly mission to Titan. Stofan holds master’s and doctorate degrees in geological sciences from Brown University, and a bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary.


Cristián Samper, Managing Director and Leader of Nature Solutions, Bezos Earth Fund

Cristián Samper is the Managing Director and Leader for Nature Solutions at the Bezos Earth Fund, overseeing our work related to the protection and restoration of nature, as well as the transformation of food systems.

Prior to joining us, he served as President & Chief Executive Officer of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) for a decade from 2002 to 2012, overseeing the largest network of urban wildlife parks, hosting four million visitors each year, and carried long-term field research and conservation programs in more than 60 countries.

Prior to joining WCS, Dr. Samper served as Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and was the founding director of Colombia’s Alexander von Humboldt Institute. He served as Chair of the science advisory body of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and was one of the leaders of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Raised in Colombia, Dr. Samper studied biology at the Universidad de Los Andes and earned his MA and PhD from Harvard University.

Craig Hanson, Managing Director and Executive Vice President for Programs, World Resources Institute

Craig Hanson is the Managing Director and Executive Vice President for Programs at World Resources Institute. In this role, he is responsible for ensuring WRI’s programs and centers catalyze the systemic transformations necessary for a just and sustainable transition to a net zero world.

While a program director at WRI from 2008-2022, Craig co-developed a number of leading initiatives, including Global Forest Watch, the Global Restoration Initiative, the Forest Legality Alliance, the Food Loss and Waste Protocol, Champions 12.3, the Better Buying Lab, Resource Watch, the Food and Land Use Coalition, Cities4Forests and the Ocean initiative. He was a co-author of the World Resources Report, Creating a Sustainable Food Future, and lead author on publications such as The Restoration Diagnostic and the Corporate Ecosystem Services Review.

When Craig joined WRI in 2002, he managed the Green Power Market Development Group, a coalition of a dozen Fortune 500 companies that helped pioneer corporate energy markets in the United States. This initiative won a U.S. EPA Innovation Award in 2004.

Craig spent five years as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in Chicago and Copenhagen. He holds a Masters degree in Environmental Change & Management from Oxford University. While at Oxford, he also earned a Master’s degree in Philosophy, Politics, & Economics with an emphasis on environmental economics while on a Rhodes Scholarship.

Frank Martin Seifert, Focal point for land and forest services, European Space Agency

Frank Martin Seifert has a background in microwave engineering and remote sensing with focus on land application and climate change. He has been working for the European Space Agency at ESRIN/Frascati, Italy since 2000 as Earth Observation application engineer. Frank Martin has been ESA’s focal point for land and forest services from local to continental scale for Copernicus, which contributed to the specification of the Sentinel-1 and -2 satellites. His current interest lies in the use of remotely sensed data supporting developing countries to measure, report and verify the status of their forests in the framework of REDD+. To maximize the information value and impact of satellite images he is working on systematic space data coordination in GEO’s Global Forest Observation Initiative (GFOI) and advocates for ESA Earth Observation at UNFCCC.

Adriane Esquivel Muelbert, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lecturer in Global Forest Ecology

Adriane Esquivel Muelbert investigates how forests respond to different global change forces and what the implications of these responses are on biodiversity and global biogeochemical cycles. Her work demonstrates the importance of drought tolerance in shaping diversity and composition across Neotropical tree communities and provides evidence that Amazonian forests are changing as a result of the increase in water stress and atmospheric CO2. More recently, she has focused on tree mortality and how tree death varies across large geographical scales.

Stuart Davies, Director of ForestGEO and Frank H. Levinson Chair, Senior Staff Scientist

Dr. Stuart Davies‘ research investigates ecological and evolutionary influences on variation in rainforest communities across the tropics to understand broad-scale patterns in the diversity and dynamics of tropical rainforests and predict how global change will affect tropical rainforests. He leads the Smithsonian Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO), a global network of 76 large-scale forest research sites in 29 countries. As the largest of its kind in the world, ForestGEO complements the efforts of the modeling community and the space-borne observational community, and provides an extraordinary opportunity to revolutionize our understanding of one of Earth’s most biologically complex and important systems. Stuart received his PhD. from Harvard University in 1996.

Josh Tewksbury, Ira Rubinoff Director, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Dr. Joshua Tewksbury is the Ira Rubinoff Director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). Headquartered in Panama City, Panama, with field sites around the world, STRI furthers the understanding and public awareness of tropical biodiversity and its importance to human welfare. In addition to its resident scientists and support staff, STRI’s facilities are used annually by some 1,400 visiting scientists, pre- and postdoctoral fellows, and interns from around the world. Tewksbury is an ecologist, evolutionary biologist, and conservation biologist, with more than two decades of research in conservation, biodiversity, and climate change, as well as nearly a decade of executive leadership experience at international research institutes.