F&ES students to conduct research in their native lands

Four international students at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) will conduct conservation research this summer in or near their homelands in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa as Compton International Fellows.

The Compton Fellowship supports research that strengthens biodiversity conservation and sustainability and that is linked to the fields of peace and security (conflict management) and population and reproductive health.

The students, all first-year master’s candidates at F&ES, are Carla Chizmar, Panama; Rita Effah, Ghana; Daniela Marini, Argentina; and Paulo Sanjines, Bolivia. They were selected by the Tropical Resources Institute at Yale to share $36,000 for their research projects.

“These students are doing vitally important research on critical conservation and development issues in their own home region,” says Michael Dove, the Margaret K. Musser Professor of Social Ecology and director of the Tropical Resources Institute.

Chizmar will study 20 native tree species for their capacity to withstand drought and tolerate shade at the Michelin Field Research Station in Brazil. The Atlantic Forest of tropical South America contains 20,000 plant species, but less than 10% of the forest remains.

“Her proposed work is in an area that is now a hotbed of reforestation in the central region of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil,” says Mark Ashton, the Morris K. Jesup Professor of Silviculture and Forest Ecology.

Effah, who worked for the Forestry Commission of Ghana, will collect data for a statistical analysis of carbon storage in teak plantations. Her research will be part of a national forest inventory enabling Ghana to abide by international agreements preventing deforestation. Teak is a highly prized tropical hardwood in international markets.

“The foundation’s investment in the success and future career of this remarkable young woman will yield enormous dividends for the people and forest resources of Ghana,” says Tim Gregoire, the J.P. Weyerhaeuser Jr. Professor of Forest Management.

Marini seeks to understand the social, political and economic forces that shape landscapes and influence fire-management strategies in the Andean-Patagonian region of Argentina and Chile. Fire is an integral part of ecosystem health and regeneration in that region. Her research aims to push for the creation of resource management policies that support people who live in fire-prone areas and to provide insight into the relationship between humans and nature in Patagonia.

“For the last three years she has been a field instructor in a protected area, where she has been a very capable leader of people of diverse ages and professions,” says Susan Clark, the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Professor (Adjunct) of Wildlife Ecology and Policy.

Sangines is investigating an incentive plan called Payments for Ecosystem Services, which encourages coffee growers to plant trees. Coffee plantations that are managed in shade provide a vibrant agricultural habitat. Little is known, however, about how to design these incentive programs, and Sangines’ project will investigate how varying degrees of shade affect coffee production.

“This research program is very important,” says Robert Mendelsohn, an economist and the Edwin Weyerhaeuser Davis Professor of Forest Policy. “Successful programs can make rural livelihoods sustainable and ease the tension that exists in tropical forests between development and conservation. It is a critical element of attaining peace in this region of the world.”

For more information about the Compton International Fellowship, click here.

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