Three Cairns Scholars

Aira Mae Tingzon Gavan, Philippines

Goal: Contribute to comprehensive tropical forest management practices and sustainable conservation efforts

As an officer for monitoring and evaluation in the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Aira Mae Tingzon Gavan had a front-row seat to the far-reaching damage caused by deforestation. Small-scale logging of tropical forests, she says, presents one of the country’s most urgent environmental challenges.

She is also keenly — and personally — aware of the broader importance of forest conservation in mitigating severe weather from climate change. Growing up outside of Manila, she was frequent witness to urban flooding. After moving to the island of Leyte in the eastern Philippines, Gavan experienced the brutally destructive power of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Her quest for solutions led her to the Yale School of the Environment, where she is pursuing a Master of Environmental Management (MEM).

“YSE will equip me with the knowledge and network of mentors and colleagues essential for tackling these challenges,” Gavan says. “It will enhance my abilities in critical and systems thinking, communication, and presenting, empowering me to be a more effective advocate for people and the planet.”

Gavan’s particular focus on community-based forestry initiatives reaches across scales — from national to local — and encompasses a wide range of stakeholders, from conservationists to regulators and local loggers, who, she notes, are often pushed into their trade by economic hardship.

“My goal is to infuse more vitality into forest management and governance in my home country,” Gavan says. “By drawing insights from diverse environmental leaders here, I hope to contribute to a multilateral and comprehensive approach to forest management and sustainable conservation efforts.”


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