Seminar: Toby Gardner and Joice Ferreira, "Conservation-development trade-offs and the challenge of translating conservation science into policy: some insights from the Brazilian Amazon"

Past Event

10 November 2011, 5:15pm

School of Geography and Environment
South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY

This seminar is hosted by the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests


  • Toby Gardner, NERC Fellow and Darwin College Research Fellow, Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
  • Joice Ferreira, Researcher, Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA)

Abstract: With rare exceptions rural development across the tropics translates into the conversion of native forests and a subsequent process of land-use intensification. Understanding the nature and strength of trade-offs between development activities, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service production is therefore central to the challenge of creating sustainable rural economies.

Here we present the conceptual framework and initial results of the Sustainable Amazon Project (PAS); involving a network of more than 30 research, civil society and local government organisations working in the Brazilian Amazon. PAS presents two unique strategic advantages for assessing sustainability. First, work was conducted at spatial scales that are large enough to encompass major gradients of anthropogenic disturbance while also resonating with multiple scales of management (farms, watersheds and municipalities) with sample data from more than 200 farms and 36 watersheds in two regions of eastern Amazonia (each covering an area of c.1.5 million hectares). Second, we collected standardised data across all study farms on patterns of biodiversity value, ecosystem service production (carbon storage and soil conservation), and socio-economic condition (agricultural productivity, income generation, and well-being).


  • Toby is interested in the ways in which science and the scientific process can contribute to solving real-world social-environmental problems. What conceptual and empirical support is necessary to help reconcile conflicts over environmental resources, encourage genuine dialogue amongst decision makers and lead to lasting changes in human behaviour? His current work is focused on evaluating conservation-development trade-offs in different land-use systems in Brazilian Amazonia. Previously he has worked on understanding patterns of biodiversity change in human-modified ecosystems in East Africa and the Caribbean. He is very interested in how conservation messages can be most effectively disseminated to different audiences, and also how those different audiences can interact more effectively with scientists and the scientific process.
  • Joice is a Brazilian ecologist who has been working in the Eastern Amazon for the last five years as a researcher in the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA). She is interested in finding solutions for the complex socio-ecological problems that are linked to agricultural expansion and management practices in the Amazon region. Joice is currently coordinating a multi-disciplinary research program at the environment and socioeconomic interface that relates land-uses and agricultural practices with ecosystem services provision, biodiversity conservation, production costs and benefits and well-being of rural communities. Formerly, her research was focussed on the Brazilian savannah (cerrado) ecosystem and the linkages between plant diversity, function and structural patterns with environmental conditions.