Who got that cash?

December 23, 2005

British scientists are to examine the effects of the catastrophic drought that hit the Amazonian basin this year.

The drought left millions of people without key supplies after rivers and lakes used for transport dried up. Hundreds of rare species of trees are also thought to have suffered.

Now scientists from Leeds and Oxford universities are to assess the damage with the help of a £150,000 grant from the Natural Environment Research Council.

Oliver Phillips , a reader in the School of Geography at Leeds, will lead the six-month project, which starts in February. He will be joined by Yadvinder Malhi , a geography lecturer at Oxford.

The Leeds team will spend three months in Peru, Colombia and Venezuela studying at first hand the trees devastated by the drought.

Dr Malhi will view computerised images from Oxford.

He said: "It is possible that by the end of the century the Amazon will have turned from a wet forest to a dry savanna. We need the Amazon as it is because it contains between a quarter and a third of the world's biodiversity and many species unknown to science."

Dr Phillips said: "We are hoping to find that trees in the Amazon have been more resilient than predicted."

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