Fulbright awardee leads reforestation efforts in Australia

For more than two decades, Chris Barton, Ph.D., professor of forest hydrology and watershed management in the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, has been conducting research related to environmental pollution and the restoration of degraded lands. Primarily focused on coal mines in Appalachia, Barton’s research recently expanded to a more global scale.

Barton received a Fullbright U.S. Distinguished Chair in Science, Technology and Innovation award, which supported a six-month stay leading reforestation efforts in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. This prestigious academic exchange program expands and strengthens relationships with citizens of other nations, addressing critical research challenges and promoting international understanding and cooperation.

“By improving our ability to rehabilitate disturbed lands, we create new opportunities for areas that are often considered marginal,” said Barton. “We protect biodiversity, improve environmental quality and contribute significantly to the development of a sustainable future for these impacted communities.”

With interest growing in climate change mitigation, Barton’s research shifted slightly in recent years to examine how reforestation of disturbed landscapes could improve environmental quality and sequester carbon. His research in Appalachia has resulted in a number of findings that have informed mine rehabilitation policy and led to the development of new restoration techniques and the planting of millions of trees.

Katherine Johnson

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