ISTF 2022 | Presenters

Notice: The 2022 conference will now be held fully virtually given the evolving public health situation.

List of Speakers and Panelists

Listing 19 Contributors in this category. Click on any listing to show sessions and more information.

Josefina Braña Varela

Vice President, Deputy Lead of the Forests Team WWF

Josefina Braña Varela has dedicated more than 20 years to global environmental issues, in particular the conservation of the world’s most important forests. Currently, Josefina serves as vice president and deputy lead of the forest team at WWF-US. In this capacity, she manages and supports the implementation of efforts dedicated to halting deforestation and forest degradation in critical geographies. In addition, Josefina is point on Forest Climate Solutions for WWF, overseeing a multidisciplinary team working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring our forests remain healthy and abundant. Since 2013, she has also led WWF’s global forest and climate policy agenda and advocacy efforts.

Over the course of her career, Josefina has been integrally involved in major international negotiations. From 2009-2013, she was part of Mexico’s delegation to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Forum on Forests, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where she negotiated REDD+, a mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and land-use related issues.

Middle Keynote + Q&AFri 1/28 1:30pm EST

Robin Chazdon

Professor Emerita, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut Research Professor, Tropical Forests and People Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast

Robin is Professor Emerita in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Connecticut and part-time Research Professor with the Tropical Forests and People Research Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Her long-term and on-going collaborative research focuses on forest restoration and flagship restoration case studies. She recently served as the Executive Director of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation and as Director of the NSF-funded Research Coordination Network PARTNERS (People and Reforestation in the Tropics), focused on understanding the socio-ecological drivers of reforestation in the tropics. She is a Senior Fellow with the World Resources Institute Global Restoration Initiative and a Senior Research Associate with the International Institute for Sustainability in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the new IIS-Australia branch. She is the principal consultant of Forestoration International LLC. She is the author or co-author of over 200 peer-reviewed publications, including her sole authored book “Second growth: The promise of tropical forest regeneration in an age of deforestation” was published in 2014. She is an active member of the FAO Task Force on Best Practices for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Susan Chomba

Director of Vital Landscapes World Resources Institute  

Dr Susan Chomba is a social scientist with over 15 years of experience in governance, policies and institutions in forestry, agriculture and rural development in Africa. She works on climate change policies, land tenure, equity, vulnerability and gender. She holds a PhD in forest governance from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), a double MSc. in agricultural development and Agroforestry from the Universities of Copenhagen and Bangor (UK) respectively and a BSc. In forestry from Moi University, Kenya. Susan is based at the World Agroforestry (ICRAF) in Nairobi where she currently leads one of the Centre’s mega projects, (Regreening Africa), whose primary objective is to reverse land degraded by scaling up proven and cost-effective technologies across eight countries in Africa. Susan is passionate about applying research to inform development and works towards bridging the gap between the two. Susan believes research is critical for transforming lives and livelihoods of small holder farmers in Africa; and development interventions are most effective when they are informed by research and vice versa.

Liza Comita

Professor of Tropical Forest Ecology

Minnie Degawan

Director of the Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program Conservation International

Minnie Degawan is a Kankanaey Igorot from the Cordillera, philippines. She is a lifetime activist for the recognition of IP rights, from when she was a student supporting the struggle of the Kalinga people for justice when their anti-dam leader was killed in 1982. She then joined the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and was elected as its Secretary General, and in such capacity she participated in the drafting of the UNDRIP during the UNWGIP days. She was among the pioneers of indigenous caucuses which led to the creation on the International Alliance of Indigenous and Traditional Peoples of the Tropical Forests in 1990. She then headed the DINTEG - Indigenous Peoples Legal Resource Center which lobbied for, and critiqued laws on Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, such as the IPRA. She was the regional coordinator of the ILO Project on ILO169 before leading the GEF-funded project that sought to strengthen Indigenous Peoples participation in biodiversity use and conservation, the Indigenous Peoples Network for Change. When the UNDRIP was adopted, she decided to join conservation groups to see how it is implemented on the ground. She is currently the Director of the Indigenous Peoples Program at Conservation International where she is exposed to how conservation and Indigenous Peoples rights intersect. She is currently based in the Cordillera, Philippines.

Amity Doolittle

Senior Lecturer Yale School of the Environment

Eva Garen

Program Director Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI)

Based at Yale University, Dr. Eva Garen has spent almost twenty-five years working on the social aspects of conservation and development in the tropics. Prior to becoming the Director of ELTI in 2012, Eva was a technical advisor on the social aspects of REDD+ with Conservation International’s Science and Knowledge Division. Eva also worked with USAID’s Forestry and Biodiversity Teams in Washington D.C. as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For her postdoctoral research in Panama at STRI, she worked with cattle ranchers and smallholders on issues of native species reforestation and land restoration in mosaic tropical forest landscapes. Eva completed her M.E.S. and Ph.D. at the Yale School of the Environment, with a concentration in social ecology.

Bradford Gentry

Frederick K. Weyerhaeuser Professor in the Practice of Forest Resources Management and Policy, Yale School of the Environment Co-Director of the Center for Business & the Environment at Yale and Director of the Research Program on Private Investment and the Environment at Yale

Karen Holl

Professor of Environmental Studies University of California, Santa Cruz

Karen Holl is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on understanding how local and landscape scale processes affect ecosystem recovery from human disturbance and using this information to restore damaged ecosystems. Her current research focuses in rain forests in Latin America and chaparral, grassland and riparian systems in California. She advises numerous public and private agencies on land management and restoration; recently she has been working to improve outcomes of the effort of the many large-scale tree growing campaigns. In 2008 she was selected as an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow and is committed to communicating with policy makers and the public. She teaches courses in restoration ecology, conservation biology, and environmental problem solving. She served as chair of the Environmental Studies Department and as the faculty director for the Ken Norris Center for Natural History at UC Santa Cruz. She is a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and the Ecological Society of America, and was the 2017 winner of the Theodore Sperry Award of the Society for Ecological Restoration. Her Primer of Ecological Restoration ​was published by Island Press in 2020.

Bryan McCann

Vice President, Markets Emergent

Bryan is the Vice President, Markets at Emergent. He works closely with corporate partners to help meet their climate objectives. Prior to joining Emergent, Bryan was a Senior Associate at the Global Development Incubator, supporting Emergent on an interim basis. Bryan is a management consultant by trade, working with Fortune 100 companies in Canada and the US with Oliver Wyman, a top-five global consultancy. He also has significant global development experience from his work with One Acre Fund, a large agricultural development social enterprise, and the World Food Programme in Rome. Bryan holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s University and a Master’s of Arts in International and Development Economics from Yale University.

Pamela McElwee

Professor of Human Ecology Rutgers University

Pamela McElwee is Professor of Human Ecology at Rutgers and has conducted fieldwork in Southeast Asia over the last 25 years on the topics of biodiversity, ecosystem services, and climate change. Her first book, Forests are Gold: Trees, People and Environmental Rule in Vietnam won the EUROSEAS prize for best social science book on Southeast Asia. She was awarded a 2019 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship to work on her next book about the environmental legacies of the Vietnam War and the politics of post-war restoration efforts. McElwee has also served as lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and on the first joint IPCC/IPBES report on Biodiversity and Climate Change. She holds a joint Ph.D. in forestry and environmental studies and anthropology from Yale.

Florencia Montagnini

Senior Research Scientist,  Director, Program in Tropical Forestry and Agroforestry Yale School of the Environment

Musonda Mumba

Director, The Rome Centre for Sustainable Development United Nations Development Programme

Musonda Mumba is the Director for The Rome Centre for Sustainable Development under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in close collaboration with the Italian Government’s Ministry of Environment and Ecological Transition. The Centre focuses on three priority areas: climate change, sustainable development, and nature protection. In her role, Mumba provides strategic leadership on these matters through convening, collaboration, connecting, and co-creation as the world navigates complexity and uncertainty, with the aim of achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals collectively. She is also the Chair of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) and Vice-Chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). She has over 25 years’ experience in environmental and conservation issues globally, and has published widely in various journals, newspapers, articles, and contributed to book chapters. Before joining UNDP, Mumba was the head of United Nations Environment Programme – UNEP’s Terrestrial Ecosystems Programme and served in various roles over a period of 12 years. A Zambian national, she received her BSc. Ed. at University of Zambia and her Ph.D. at University College London in wetland conservation and hydrology.

Closing Keynote + Q&ASat 1/29 1:30pm EST

John Parrotta

President International Union of Forest Research Organizations National Research Program Leader for International Science Issues US Forest Service

John Parrotta is the President of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations - IUFRO (2019–2024). A research scientist with the USDA Forest Service since 1991, he has served as national research program leader for international science issues since 2001. He provides scientific and technical advice for development of science-based policy positions in international forest policy forums and works with government agencies, international organizations and other partners to strengthen global forest science, biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management. He holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and has been engaged in research worldwide for over 30 years, with a focus on tropical forest ecology and management, traditional knowledge, and forest landscape restoration. He is the author of a number of books and over 180 other research publications and serves as an editorial board member for several international scientific journals.

Hege Ragnhildstveit

Senior Adviser Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI)

Hege is a Senior Adviser with the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), based in the Ministry of Climate and Environment in Oslo. She has 20 years’ experience in rainforest protection, REDD+, forest governance, indigenous peoples rights and deforestation-free supply chains. She has worked with the governments of Indonesia, Guyana, Ethiopia and Brazil in supporting their national plans for reduced deforestation and green growth, and she leads NICFI’s work on stakeholder engagement, safeguards and the intersection between REDD+, sustainable development and rights. Prior to joining NICFI, she served as Climate and Forest Counsellor at the Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta and as Head of the Southeast Asia Department for Rainforest Foundaiton Norway. She holds a Master of Philosophy Degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oslo.

Juan Carlos Ramos

Manager EcoAgriculture Partners

Juan Ramos is currently a Manager at EcoAgriculture Partners focused on finance, markets, and policy in support of locally agreed upon landscape-scale strategies. Juan also supports the 1000 Landscapes for One Billion People initiative, with an emphasis on financial resource mobilization in a ‘radical collaboration’ amongst leading practitioners in the field and local landscape partnerships. He focuses primarily on Latin America.
Previously, Juan has worked with the financial and private sector on developing strategies for climate, sustainability and resource mobilization at the Interamerican Development Bank Group (IADB), South Pole, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).