P4ges – Can paying 4 global ecosystem services reduce poverty? [Current]

A not-so-people-shy Indri at Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

This study seeks to address a key question: How can international ecosystem service payment schemes most effectively reduce poverty in low income countries, given bio-physical, economic and political realities? I am primarily involved in socio-economic component of the project with responsibilities for field data collection and ecosystem services valuation. This work has so far resulted in following publications/conference papers:

  1. “Can REDD+ social safeguards reach the ‘right’ people? Lessons from Madagascar” (w/ B.S. Ramamonjisoa, N. Hockley, O.S. Rakotonarivo, J.M. Gibbons, R. Mandimbiniaina, A. Rasoamanana, J.P.G. Jones), Global Environmental Change 37: 31-42 (2016).
  2. “Who bears the cost of forest conservation under REDD+?” (w/ J.P.G. Jones, N. Hockley, S. Rakotonarivo, B. Ramamonjisoa, R. Mandimbiniaina, and A. Rasoamanana) Presented at ESPA 2014 Annual Science Meeting 26 –27 November 2014, New Delhi, India.

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Swedish Forest Commons [Ongoing]

This study looks at the participation in management/governance and in benefits sharing in the Swedish forest commons. I am working at two levels: (1) Analysis of the previously collected data and preparing articles for peer-reviewed academic journals: and (2) New data collection to complement and to expand existing data on Swedish forest commons. The latter will lead to further understanding of these institutions as well as further scientific publications, thereby giving the study on Swedish forest commons a continuation, and help place Swedish commons in a wider context (i.e., forest commons elsewhere). This is an ongoing work which has so far resulted in following publications/conference papers:


  1. “Absent neighbours and passive shareholders – The issue of residency and involvement in the management of a forest common” (w/ S. Sandström, S. Berg Lejon, and G. Lidestav) in Journal of Forest Economics, 24: 205-217 (2016).
  2. “Supporting community governance in boreal forests by introducing participatory-GIS through action research” (w/ G. Lidestav, P. Sandström, and S. Sandström) in International Journal of Action Research 11(3): 236-264 (2015).
  3.  “Shareholder perceptions of individual and common benefits in Swedish Forest Commons” (w/ G. Lidestav, E. Holmgren, and E.C.H. Keskitalo) in International Journal of the Commons 7(1): 164-182 (2013).
  4. “Governance and benefits sharing in the Swedish forest commons: an assessment of the shareholder satisfaction” (w/ G. Lidestav), in Schriftenreihe der Landesforstverwaltung NRW, Heft 22, pp. 58-65 (2012) (Previously presented at Forest Commons – Role Model for Sustainable Local Governance and Forest Management, International Workshop, 9-11 October 2011, Burbach, Germany.)
  5. “Analysing participation in Swedish forest commons: where women stand?” (w/ G. Lidestav) Presented at IUFRO 6.08 – Gender and Forestry Conference, Environmental governance and four decades of gender research: Where do we stand? 27–29 November 2012, Wondo Genet Forestry College, Ethiopia.
  6. “Increasing shareholder participation in forest commons’ governance: what are the chances and challenges?” (w/ G. Lidestav) Presented at Rural at the Edge /2nd Nordic Conference for Rural Research, 21-23 May 2012, Joensuu, Finland.
Baltic Landscape Project (Baltic Landscape in change – innovative approaches towards sustainable forested landscapes) [2011-2014]

I am involved in Work Package 5 (Adaptive co-management and balancing of values in terrestrial habitats) in this project, where we are using the case of Vilhelmina Upper Forest Common (VUFC) to study participatory forest management/governance. In particular, we are studying shareholders’ engagement in the VUFC on one hand, while on the other, we are analysing the board and forest manager’s planning and decision-making process. Furthermore, we are attempting to test the applicability of tools such as participatory-GIS for planning and decision-making, and as a platform for communication between board and shareholders and among the shareholders regarding sustainable natural resource management and use within VUFC.
This study of VUFC also links strongly with the overall research on forest commons in Sweden as outlined earlier.

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INNOVKAR Project (Innovative tools & techniques for sustainable use of shea trees in Sudano-Sahelian zone) [2007-2011]

This project involved the study of shea trees, Vitellaria paradoxa, (economically important, multipurpose tree species in Sudano-Sahelian agroforestry parklands) from a variety of angles, such as distribution, propagation, genetic variation, impact of farming, impact of climate change and market value chain. My role in the project was two folds:
(1) As the Leader of Work Package 1 – “Shea tree dynamics and fruit production in the parklands”, my role was to take the lead in preparing study/sampling protocols, coordinate field data collection in five countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Uganda) in collaboration with in-country INNOVKAR partners, and utilise the field data in order to: assess the impact of climate change and farmer practises on the natural regeneration of shea trees; assess the impact of climate change and farmer practises on fruit production; predict shea tree parkland dynamics in the long term using a predictive model of Shea regeneration and production under different management scenarios (i.e., field-fallow dynamics).

(2) As the Deputy Leader of Work Package 2 – “Adaptation and resilience of shea tree facing climate change and drought using ecophysiological and modelling approaches”, my primary role was to coordinate the shea distribution modelling efforts in the Environment Department at the University of York; assist in sourcing, compiling and ground-toothing shea distribution data; and communicating and presenting the findings with other project partners.
Currently, I am involved in preparation of a number of manuscripts with other scientists involved in this project, some of which are listed below.

  1. “Shea regeneration dynamics in fields and fallows of  West Africa: an empirical study from Burkina Faso and Mali” (w/ B. Bastide and B. Kelly) – in preparation.
  2. “Variation in fruit production of Shea trees along the north-south gradient in Mali” (w/ B. Kelly and J.-M. Bouvet) – in preparation
  3. “Variation of Vitellaria paradoxa phenophases along the north-south gradient in Mali” (w/ B. Kelly and J.-M. Bouvet) – in preparation

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Tree tenure in agroforestry parklands in Northern Ghana [2007-2010]

This was my doctoral research work looking at the impact of tree (and land) tenure on the management and utilisation of indigenous economic trees (shea and locust bean) in the agroforestry parklands of Northern Ghana. The overarching objective was to study the systems of customary tenure in these parklands and how they impact on the management and use of indigenous economic trees such as shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) and locust bean (Parkia biglobosa) by the local households. This was a interdisciplinary study that utilised several methodologies in data collection and analysis to assess individual and household behaviour in the management of shea and locust bean trees, and the impact on the ecology of these species. The analyses of incentives (and constraints) arising from differing tenure arrangements indicated differing attitudes among the households to the preservation and planting of these trees on their farmlands.

Fieldwork in Ghana

Photo by: ML

I gathered primary data for this research through household surveys, key informant interviews, focus groups, field observations, and census of shea and locust bean trees on the farmlands. The data was gathered over two field seasons (2007 and 2008), while I was also managing the fieldwork component in the INNOVKAR project from my base in Ghana. From this research I have thus far one peer-reviewed publication, with others at various stages towards publication. A list of publications/conference papers from this research follows.

  1. “Chiefs and trees: tenures and incentives in the management and use of two multipurpose tree species in agroforestry parklands in Northern Ghana” in Society and Natural Resources 24(10): 1063-1077 (2011).
  2. “Utilisation, management and ecology of indigenous economic trees in agroforestry parklands: the role of tree tenure” Presented at the International Society for Ecological Economics, 11th Biennial Conference ISEE 2010 – Advancing Sustainability in a Time of Crisis, 22-25 August 2010, Oldenburg and Bremen, Germany.


Economic Incentives and Poaching of One-horned Rhinoceros in Nepal [2003-2005]

This interdisciplinary project that brought together multiple institutions and researchers received a research grant of around €110K from the Netherlands government through the PREM Programme in IVM, Virje Universiteit Amsterdam. The primary aim of this research project was to conduct an applied and policy-relevant study on the poaching of one-horned rhinoceros in Nepal, which at the time was at an alarmingly high rate, and to come up with practical and implementable policy options through an understanding of the factors that influenced poaching of rhinos in and around the Chitwan National Park. This interdisciplinary study involved researchers from a variety of disciplines from anthropology, environmental economics, geography to conservation biology, and multiple methods of study in terms of data gathering and analysis. I had the opportunity to lead the primary data collection in the project through questionnaire survey and discrete choice experiments in the households from six villages within the buffer zone of the national park. This study was able to discern some of the major factors contributing to the increased poaching of rhinoceros in Nepal through modelling of historic poaching figures as well as using the survey data. The research findings were presented at a national workshop in Kathmandu in February 2005, and further communicated through a policy brief and various publications and conference presentations listed below.mother and baby rhino in Chitwan

  1. “Ecological and economic analysis of poaching of the greater one horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) in Nepal” (w/ K. Rothley and D. Knowler) in Ecological Applications 19(7): 1693-1707 (2009).
  2. “The Economics of Rhinoceros Poaching in Nepal: An Empirical Analysis and Theoretical Extension” (w/ D. Knowler) Presented at the International Conference on Economics of Poverty, Environment and Natural Resource Use, 17 – 19 May 2006, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
  3. PREM Policy Brief 01 – Economic incentives and poaching of the one-horned Indian rhinoceros in Nepal
  4. PREM Working Paper 05-07 – “Economic incentives and poaching of the one-horned Indian rhinoceros in Nepal: A Retrospective Econometric Analysis” (w/ D. Knowler) (2005)
  5. PREM Working Paper 05-11 – “Simulation Modelling of Policies to Combat the Poaching of Rhino in Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal” (w/ D. Knowler) (2005)
  6. PREM Working Paper 05-12 – “Stakeholder Perspectives in Biodiversity Conservation – Analysis of Local, National and Global Stakes in Rhino Conservation in Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal” (w/ B.P. Adhikari, W. Haider, O. Gurung, B. Beardmore, D. Knowler and P. van Beukering) (2005)
  7.  “Population model for the greater one- horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) in Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal” (w/ K. Rothley and D.J. Knowler) in Pachyderm 37: 19-27 (2004).
  8.  “Economic Incentives and Poaching of the One-Horned Indian Rhinoceros in Nepal” (w/ B. Adhikari) Presented at the International Society for Ecological Economics, 8th Biennial Scientific Conference, 11 – 14 July 2004, Montréal, Canada.

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