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UU, CIFOR & LANDac | PhD Defense Federico Brandão

Dear colleagues,

You are cordially invited Frederico’ public defence of its PhD thesis titled:

The challenge of reconciling conservation and development

January 17, 2020 at 14.00


The recent Amazon fire crises and the emerging anti-environmental governmental rhetoric across some important countries have brought to the fore the need to develop viable models that both protect forests and stimulate socioeconomic development as intertwined goals in tropical landscapes. This dissertation focuses on one of the proposals to address that aim: sustainable agricultural production. More precisely, it discusses the extent to which sustainable oil palm expansion can be a viable option to reconcile conservation and development in the Brazilian Amazon. The book’s eight chapters analyse in great detail an expansion process shaped by a unique governance context characterized by robust measures to prevent the deforestation of primary forests and to use degraded lands, and to support the inclusion of smallholder farmers in the business through contract farming schemes. It does so grounded in extensive fieldwork activities carried out between 2014 and 2015 in the Amazonian state of Pará, where the bulk of Brazil’s agricultural investments are located. Brazil has achieved remarkable outcomes in terms of preventing deforestation and stimulating a fairer and more equitable distribution of benefits. This shows that oil palm expansion is not necessarily associated with devastating consequences, such as those observed in Southeast Asia. Yet, the Brazilian model does have some important limitations in terms of inclusivity and viability, which questions its socio-environmental orientation in the long run. By discussing the observed merits and failures, the case study presented here provides an interesting example of the existing challenges and dilemmas encountered when attempting to align agricultural development, poverty alleviation, and forest conservation.

This defense is part of the LIFFE program with CIFOR, and is a partnership with LANDac.

Address: Academiegebouw, Domplein 29, Utrecht