Tropical Forest Crises: A Global Discussion in a Pandemic Year

Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 9:45am



Panel 1 Presentations 

Tropical Forest Crisises: A Global Discussion in a Pandemic Year (1 hr 15 min)

Break (15 min)

Panel Discussion + Q&A (45 min)

Headline crises of 2019 and 2020 include record-high temperatures, an increase in severe weather events, and devastating forest fires in the Amazon, Congo Basin and Australia. Like the Covid-19 pandemic that has swept across the globe during the past year, these crises have been linked to the loss and degradation of the world’s tropical forests. Dramatic, event-based crises can result in swift media attention and calls for funding and logistical support for humanitarian and conservation relief efforts. However, if we interpret these acute crises as symptoms of the chronic and intimately interconnected environmental crises facing modern society (social and environmental injustices, biodiversity loss, deforestation and climate change), we are left with the questions of how and where to focus our efforts and how we design solutions at a meaningful scale. Our panel of experts will discuss the challenges facing tropical forests across the globe and their drivers and consequences. They will also offer insights into the complexity and nuance required to identify and address challenges, conceptualize solutions, and facilitate change.

  • What are some of the patterns you see in the challenges facing tropical forests across the globe?

  • When is the moment in time in which you felt the ability to identify issues and policies impacting tropical forests and propose changes? What was the setting that created these perceived opportunities for change? How were the opportunities seized or slowed?

  • What are some of the greatest successes and failures you have seen (or taken part in) in response to tropical forest crises by  different stakeholders (consider the scientific community, civil society, government, the private sector, forest communities)?

  • What are some of the key hurdles which must be overcome in order to improve the management of tropical forests? What do paths forward look like, and how are they interwoven and diverging across different regions or for different actors/stakeholders?

  • How has the pandemic changed thought and practice with regards to tropical ecology and conservation (e.g., research collaborations, conservation funding, tropical forest communities, public policy)? Is there an expectation that these changes will be long lasting?  

Panel Recording

Corine Vriesendorp

MacArthur Senior Conservation Ecologist and Director of the Andes-Amazon Program at the Field Museum

Dr. Corine Vriesendorp is a MacArthur Senior Conservation Ecologist and Director of the Andes-Amazon Program at the Field Museum. She is a field biologist working to advance conservation and the quality of life of local people in some of the remotest corners of the Western Amazon.
Corine has been an integral part of the rapid inventory team since 2003, a program that has led to the discovery of more than 150 species new to science, and helped governments protect more than 9.4 million hectares of forest in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Her interests and research bridge the continuum from basic to applied science. She began her career studying mahogany in Bolivia, researching the impact of logging practices on mahogany populations, and creating recommendations for better management practices.
She went on to research seedling dynamics of a tropical forest community in Costa Rica, to understand birth and death processes in high-diversity forests and their implications for the conservation and management of these forests. Her seedling work is ongoing—she and her team have marked more than 60,000 seedlings since 1999.
Dr. Vriesendorp is most fascinated by the connections among organisms, and although she has published peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and technical reports about plants, she also has written short natural history notes about mammals and amphibians.She received her B.A. from Princeton University, and her Phd from Michigan State University. Her dissertation was on the maintenance of plant diversity in a Costa Rican rainforest.
Dennis Garrity

Chair, Global EverGreening Alliance
Senior Fellow, World Agroforestry Centre
Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute
Board Member, Global Landcare

Dr. Garrity is a systems agronomist and research leader whose career has been focused on the development of small-scale farming systems in the tropics. He is currently Drylands Ambassador for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and Distinguished Senior Research Fellow at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi. He served as Director General of the Centre from 2001 to 2011. He is currently leading an effort on the perennialization of agriculture in the 21st Century, building more productive and environmentally sound farming systems through a global Partnership to Create an EverGreen Agriculture. He also chairs the Steering Committee for Landcare International, a worldwide effort to support grassroots community-based natural resource management.

During the 1990s he was based in Indonesia where he launched and developed the Southeast Asia Regional Programme of ICRAF. As Head of the Farming Systems Program at the International Rice Research Institute, and as a Professor at the University of the Philippines in the 1980s he advised 47 PhD and MSc students and post-doctoral fellows from Africa, Asia, Europe and the US, and published over 175 journal articles and books. Dr. Garrity has a BSc degree in agriculture from The Ohio State University, an MSc in agronomy from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, and a PhD in crop physiology from the University of Nebraska. When visiting Washington from his base in Nairobi he invites other WRI motorcycle enthusiasts to join him on the backroads of Maryland and Virginia and get a few bugs in their teeth.

David Ganz

Executive Director, RECOFTC
Steering Committee Member, The Forests Dialogue

David has over 20 years of experience in natural resource management including several years working in Asia on large-scale natural resource management and biomass energy projects. Before joining RECOFTC, David served as the Chief of Party on SERVIR-Mekong, a joint initiative between USAID and NASA aimed at developing geospatial data to respond to the environmental and disaster needs of the region. Prior to SERVIR-Mekong, David was Chief of Party on USAID’s Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (USAID LEAF) programme. From 1999 to 2002, David worked as an Assistant Project Officer at RECOFTC headquarters. He is a graduate of two distinguished forestry institutions, University of California at Berkeley and Yale University, which promote multi-disciplinary decision-making through strong communication and teamwork skills. He has successfully taken these skills into project management of international organizations including TNC, FAO, IUCN and WWF in China and Southeast Asia

Javier Mateo-Vega

Global Director of Partnerships & Communications at the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Javier Mateo-Vega is the Global Director of Partnerships & Communications at the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Prior, Javier served as Director of the Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative (ELTI) of the Yale School of Environment, holding a joint appointment at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama). He also held positions at The Nature Conservancy and the Organization for Tropical Studies, both in Costa Rica. Javier is a PhD Candidate (Biology) at McGill University (Montreal, Canada), and his research focuses on understanding the drivers, constraints and trade-offs for forest conservation in pluralistic landscapes, shared by Indigenous peoples and farmers. He works primarily in eastern Panama, including the Bayano region and Darien Gap, areas known for their magnificent forests and rich cultural diversity. 

Javier has more than 20 years of experience providing technical and managerial leadership in natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, sustainable agriculture, capacity development, and ecological research in developing countries. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders Program. A native of Costa Rica, Javier has lived in 10 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe, and is an avid surfer and art collector.