Tropical Studies

F&ES and Yale University provide students many avenues to pursue tropical studies and research, including an array of courses that focus on the tropics.  Students may also benefit from the centers, programs and departments on Yale's campus, as well as the TRI research partnerships and other ongoing tropical research projects (see below for some examples). F&ES students from all degree programs and concentrations can focus their studies on tropical areas. The following links provide details of the graduate degree programs at the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies:

There are multiple on-going research projects at the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale that occur in or are focused on the tropics. This research spans such diverse topics as industrial ecology, water and health, to sustainable forestry and biodiversity conservation. Below are some examples of current research projects being carried out at other F&ES Centers and Institutes.

Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry


The Program in Tropical Forestry (PTF) examines the following subject areas:

  • Reforestation with native and exotic species
  • Plantation silviculture
  • Ecosystem restoration
  • Recovery and conservation of biodiversity
  • Carbon sequestration by tropical forests and plantations

Recent research by faculty of the Program in Tropical Forestry and collaborators in tropical countries includes:

  • Measuring productivity of timber plantations with native species, including mixed-species designs
  • Estimating rotation times and productive volume for native tree plantations.
  • Examining the restoration of degraded soils under pure and mixed plantations
  • Estimating carbon sequestration by pure and mixed plantations with native species
  • Measuring biodiversity of fauna and seed dispersal under pure and mixed plantations with native species

The overall research objective of the PTF is to understand variables controlling the sustainability of managed ecosystems in tropical regions, focusing on tree plantations and agroforestry systems, with special emphasis on Latin America. We are currently conducting research in Costa Rica, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, thus covering a whole range of tropical ecosystems including lowland tropical and subtropical rainforests, dry forests and savannas, and montane forests. We are collaborating with local institutions in each country, such as CATIE (Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center) in Costa Rica, the Smithsonian Institution and the Panama Canal Authority in Panama, the School of Forest Science in Misiones, Argentina, the National University of Hidalgo, Mexico, and the University of Santiago del Estero, Argentina.

Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering


Water Treatment for Developing Communities
Current research focuses on the design, development, and implementation of point-of-use water treatment technologies that are low-cost, use local materials, and are appropriate for the local community and culture while maintaining high-level performance for improved water quality and human health.

Center for Industrial Ecology


Industrial Ecology in Developing Countries
Working in India and China, this program’s mission it to work with international colleagues to adapt industrial ecology theory and practice to the realities faced in industrializing countries related to co-mingled problems of energy access, water quality and quantity, waste and material management, and global warming and to gather and disseminate useful knowledge, including indigenous knowledge, which contributes to deeper insights for industrial sustainability.

Puerto Rico: An Island of Sustainability Project The project’s goals are to identify sustainable development opportunities with the potential to improve Puerto Rico’s competitiveness and attraction as a business location to develop and test theories and methods in the area of industrial symbiosis.

Hawaii Resource Flows The Hawai’i project applies the industrial ecology systems perspective to understanding resource flows on the islands.

Student Interest Groups (SIGs) at F&ES


TRI works with the International Society of Tropical Foresters (ISTF) student group to sponsor an annual conference at F&ES on an issue of critical importance in tropical forestry. The 2011 conference in January was titled "Communities, Commodities, and Carbon: Innovations in Tropical Forest Management". Many other SIGs at F&ES also work on tropical studies or related topics. Students may consider participation in one or more SIGs while pursuing a degree at F&ES.

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