Investigator:

Matthew Bare

Advisor: Mark Ashton

Description:

The tropical Andes of Colombia, an ecologically unique high altitude tropical ecosystem, has undergone extensive development and deforestation, and little native forest cover remains outside of protected areas. Through a combination of land abandonment, increased support for ecological restoration, and increased support for potentially ecologically friendly agroforestry systems, reforestation sites have multiplied. As communities, local governments and NGOs continue to implement reforestation projects, more information is needed on the socio-political and ecological successes and failures of past projects.

This research will evaluate the effectiveness of small-scale native species reforestation projects in the highlands of Colombia by examining

  1. the sociopolitical context and ecological execution of reforestation projects and
  2. community satisfaction and ecological outcomes.

Socio-economic data collected will include the extent and nature of community participation, institutional arrangements, funding sources, and community benefit derived from the project, while ecological data collected will include survival, total basal area, litter depth, and understory plant richness. This study, in collaboration with a nationwide inventory being conducted by CIFOR, will summarize the current state of forest restoration science in Colombia. Results will provide insight on the socio-economic, institutional, and ecological conditions that favor successful forest restoration projects, providing valuable recommendations for future projects, particularly in the growing field of REDD+ and other payments for ecosystem services.