Divergent Landowners’ Expectations May Hinder the Uptake of a Forest Certificate Trading Scheme

I’m very excited to say that we’ve just had a paper published in Conservation Letters. Led by Marta Giannichi, a PhD student based in the School of Geography here at Leeds. She used Q methodology to explore the reasons for why buyers and sellers of forested land in Brazil may, or may not, want to take part in a relatively new forest certification trading scheme. The major concerns of these two groups differed, meaning that the scheme might struggle to attract enough farmers who want to take part, reducing its potential to deliver lands for forest conservation.

You can read Marta’s blog on the paper here: https://tropecol.wordpress.com/

The full citation and abstract are below:

Giannichi, M. L., Dallimer, M., Baker, T. R., Mitchell, G., Bernasconi, P. and Ziv, G. (2017), Divergent Landowners’ Expectations May Hinder the Uptake of a Forest Certificate Trading Scheme. Conservation Letters. doi:10.1111/conl.12409


A major challenge to reduce forest loss in the tropics is to incentivize conservation on private land in agricultural settings. Engaging private landowners in conservation schemes is particularly important along deforestation frontiers, such as in the southern Brazilian Amazon. While we know much about what motivates landowners to participate as providers, or sellers, of conservation schemes, understanding what motivates landowners who act as buyers, that is, those who require land to meet conservation obligations, remains lacking. Here we identify viewpoints of sellers and buyers of an emerging forest certificate trading scheme in Brazil and quantify the compatibility of their views to examine potential barriers to trade. Sellers and buyers could be divided into three groups, but only one group in each case was positive about participating in the scheme. A key concern of buyers was the desire for establishing contracts with a long duration; in contrast, price was a key issue for sellers. Addressing these concerns by defining minimum contract lengths and restricting the spatial scale of transactions will be essential if this scheme is to realise its potential to reduce rates of deforestation.


Finally … the green spaces of Bishkek

Over the last 12 months or so, I’ve done a presentation on values and preferences for greenspaces in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan and the so-called ‘greenest city in Central Asia‘.

Finally, in June, I got to visit the city and meet up with Rahat Sabrybekov, who carried out the work as part of his PhD under the supervision of Ståle Navrud at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. It was fascinating to see the parks and tree lined avenues that featured in pictures in my presentation. I even got to see the river that the city council hopes to transform into a park.

I was also intrigued to learn that, Just like in my home town of Sheffield, Bishkek’s residents love their trees, and are actively protesting against them being removed just to make way for traffic and parking. If your Kyrgyz is up to it, then you can read more here http://bit.ly/2yJQSGu.



Borders and boundaries in conservation

The prospect of a physical wall being built between the US and Mexico has prompted a great deal of coverage on the possible implications for wildlife and conservation (aside from what such a thing might mean for people). Just out in BioScience is this thought provoking article “Border walls and biodiversity: new barriers, new horizons” by Lesley Evans Ogden which features ideas from the paper I wrote with Niels Strange in Trends in Ecology and Evolution in 2015 where we discussed the role that socio-political borders and boundaries can play in conservation. You’ll spot quotes from both me and Niels in the BioScience piece!

Martin Dallimer and Niels Strange (2015) Why socio-political borders and boundaries matter in conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution; 30: 132-139.

Lesley Evans Ogden (2017) Border Walls and Biodiversity: New barriers, new horizons. BioScience; 67: 498-505

Community based sustainable land management in India

I’ve just come back from my first visit to India. Together with Lindsay Stringer, we were there as part of a GIZ-funded project in order to exchange experiences, based on our work in Kenya, with colleagues working for ICRISAT-India who are applying the Economics of Land Degradation 6+1 approach across a couple of Indian states (Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh). We spent some time with them in Pune, at the offices of the inspiring NGO WOTR (Watershed Organisation Trust), before visiting a couple of rural locations where community watershed management ideas are being applied in order to improve how sustainably land is managed in these regions where rainfall is very seasonal, and increasingly unpredictable. We’ll continue working with ICRISAT-India as they complete there analyses through to the end of the year.


Tree-planting programmes on the upper slopes of the catchment have resulted in improved soil fertility and water availability downstream.


Water accounting is carried out transparently at the community level, with facilitation and support from WOTR.


ICRISAT-India and Leeds teams meet farmers and community representatives in Bhalwani

The value of land

The Economics of Land Degradation initiative recently put together a short video explaining the results of our cost-benefit analysis of sustainable land management practices for smallholder farmers in western Kenya. The video does a great job of introducing the problems facing farmers in western Kenya, and neatly summarises our key findings. For individual farmers, it is the simplest practices (that farmers already do), such as intercropping and manure application, that offer the quickest and highest return on their investments. If policy makers want to encourage farmers to carry out sustainable land management practices, such as agroforestry, which are less profitable for the farmers themselves but have wider societal benefits, then widespread uptake will need to be helped through the use of subsidies, PES schemes or other initiatives so that the farmers are not bearing all the costs of implementation themselves.


Rapid land redistribution in Zimbabwe

Stephen Pringle presented our work on the impact of rapid land redistribution on the avian communities of Debshan Ranch in central southern Zimbabwe at this week’s African Bird Club annual meeting in London. He discusses the way in which the bird community differs between areas which, up until 2002, were managed by the same commercial game ranch, but which are now either used for subsistence agriculture, or game ranching.

You can watch Stephen talk on YouTube . Our thanks to the Rufford Small Grants Foundation and Debshan Ranch themselves for funding the study, and supporting our work in the field. You can read more about the background to the project on the Rufford website.

Exploring the water-energy-food nexus in Nepal

Nepal has the highest altitudinal range of any country. Its lowest point, in the Terai region, is below 100m, while we all know the highest, at well over 8000m. This presents the country with some unique challenges when it comes to food, energy and water usage and security, especially when you also consider the diversity of both natural and geohazards (landslides, floods, earthquakes) that can affect the country.

Together with Lindsay Stringer, we spent a week exploring the diverse topography of Nepal with Moti Rijal, from Tribhuvan University. Moti was an excellent host and took us through the Midlands, down to the Terai and back up to Kathmandu on some truly terrible roads, but with some amazing views. We’re all definitely looking forward to continuing our collaborations in the future.







Water trucks fill up on the outskirts of Kathmandu. A lack of mains water pipes means that the rapidly expanding city is dependent on these trucks






Some of the incredibly steep terrain in Nepal






Where there is some flat ground, rice is grown