Yale University has entered into a long-term partnership with the State University of Santa Cruz (UESC) in Brazil that will advance coordinated research and educational initiatives promoting forest restoration and sustainable rural development in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, one of the planet’s most biodiverse regions.
The partnership, which was formalized during a ceremony in Brazil last week, will enable Yale and UESC to build upon a 20-year history of research collaborations between the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and various institutions in the region. This agreement is expected to facilitate programs coordinated by the F&ES-based Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative
(ELTI) and to augment field research by Yale students and faculty.
Yale President Peter Salovey
was among the Yale representatives attending the ceremony, in addition to staff, faculty, and students from F&ES, including ELTI Director Eva Garen
’97 M.E.S., ’05 Ph.D., Ph.D. candidate Jeffrey Stoike
, Daniel Piotto
’06 M.F., ’11 Ph.D., and Paulo Barreiro-Sanjines
’12 M.E.Sc. A memorandum of understanding was signed by Salovey and UESC Rector Adélia Maria Carvalho de Melo Pinheiro
Salovey said the partnership enables both universities to formalize educational and research opportunities in a region of critical natural and cultural importance in a way that supports local communities and landholders.
“Although Yale University is thousands of miles away, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies has a long history of engaging with Brazilian collaborators and colleagues on tropical forest research,” Salovey said. “Yale is very proud to be a partner in helping to work on pressing environmental issues here at the local level.”
ELTI is an F&ES-based project that works in collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the National University of Singapore to train landholders, practitioners, and decision-makers across the Neotropics and tropical Asia to advance the conservation and restoration of native tree cover and ecosystem integrity in multiple-use, human-modified landscapes. Mark Ashton
, ELTI Principal Investigator and the Morris K. Jesup Professor of Silviculture and Forest Ecologyat F&ES, has been instrumental in supporting student research in the region in recent years and will play a central role in the collaboration going forward.
Since 2007, ELTI has implemented a series of field-based training courses across Brazil with local partners, including workshops for Brazilian decision-makers on the ecology of the Amazon and the importance of conservation, and training courses that helped indigenous communities recognize and tap into emerging environmental markets and payment for ecosystem service opportunities. ELTI’s most recent courses — one in southern Bahia and three in Pernambuco — have focused on restoration within the Atlantic Forest and have attracted over 100 participants from the region. ELTI also recently completed its first online course in Portuguese
Yale’s research initiatives are focused primarily within the Atlantic Forests region, which is located across the majority of the Brazil’s coastal and southern regions, due to its rich biodiversity, high population density and need for sustainable land-use alternatives on expanses of degraded land.
“The strategies of sustainable rural development being brought to bear by our partners in this agreement illustrate the ingenuity, dedication, and cultural sensitivity necessary to address environmental issues across the Atlantic Forest,” said Stoike, who conducts his doctoral research on large-scale forest restoration in the region.
“This partnership and history of research between Yale and local partners presents an extraordinary opportunity for ELTI to support capacity-building and leadership within a region where decision-makers and landholders are trying to promote sustainable land-use practices,” Garen said.
ELTI’s projects represent just the latest work by F&ES in the Atlantic Forest. Since the early 1990s, faculty and students have conducted groundbreaking research in the region. During the last decade, The Forests Dialogue
— an F&ES-based coalition of NGOs and companies — contributed to the creation of a network of 250 public and private Brazilian organizations committed to rainforest restoration.
“This exciting new partnership has been built on a foundation of collaboration and friendship forged between our institutions over two decades,” said Peter Crane
, Dean of F&ES. “It’s a collaboration that continues to produce practical strategies to ensure the future of tropical forests in this critical region, and at the same time provides valuable educational and research opportunities for students and faculty.”
Representatives from other key regional partners — including the Instituto Floresta Viva (IFV), the Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPÊ), and Amata, a Brazilian forestry and forest products company that promotes low-impact forestry techniques
— also attended the signing ceremony. Instituto Arapyaú, another partner working in the region, hosted the event.