“Our role as scientists is to inform different stakeholders about all the benefits we receive from tropical forests, but also about the costs and challenges of their conservation. We ask ourselves: how we can best achieve our conservation goals?”
Julia Naime is a PhD candidate at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). Born and raised in the urban jungle of Mexico City, Julia fell in love with the rainforest when she visited it for the first time in Chiapas as a biology student. Also trained as an economist, Julia is now conducting research on the linkages between economic growth and deforestation, and evaluating the relative effectiveness of conservation policies (such as REDD+) when implemented in different socioeconomic contexts. She believes in interdisciplinary, policy-oriented research that addresses today’s most pressing questions regarding forest conservation and management. Before starting her PhD, Julia was coordinating research focused on REDD+, agriculture and provision of ecosystem services. Although she comes from warm and sunny Mexico, she does like snowy winters and visiting Norwegian mountains pretty much any time of the year.
The success of conservation policies such as REDD+ depends on adequately understanding the drivers of land use change and designing effective policies to address them. Julia’s research aims to contribute to these needs. Deforestation is often driven by the development and economic needs of different stakeholders. Thus, the first part of Julia’s research is focusing on investigating the drivers of deforestation, in particular how economic growth and poverty alleviation affect deforestation rates at the national level, and what types of economic policies can help reduce deforestation rates. The second part is focused on evaluating the drivers of deforestation at the household level, and the potential effect of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs when they are implemented in different socioeconomic contexts. In particular, she is interested in evaluating how the existence of inequality within forest communities influences PES effectiveness and deforestation levels.
As part of her PhD and in collaboration with CIFOR, Julia conducted fieldwork in Ucayali, Peru. That experience was a valuable opportunity to obtain useful insights about the mechanisms that drive deforestation and affect smallholders’ forest use behavior, but also to engage with different stakeholders and gather smallholder’s opinions about how different conservation and development policies are affecting their wellbeing, and why they are (or are not) working.