Category Archives: Work experience

Better agricultural production and trade – learning from forest governance mechanisms

Agriculture and forests are often linked in the deforestation debates. But are differently approached when it comes to climate change debates. Generally speaking, forests relate to biodiversity and mitigation issues. Agriculture looks mostly at adaptation issues and food security. This makes it a challenge to develop effective policy mechanism for sustainable production of agriculture in particular regarding the demand side of agricultural production.

The question is: can agriculture learn from forests? Looking at forest governance mechanisms such as FLEGT (Forest Governance and Trade) and REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), we see that they do not only address biodiversity conservation but also issues of governance, illegality and sustainable development. By doing so, these mechanisms cover the wider scope of sustainability and biodiversity conservation. For example, FLEGT includes the combination of legislation on import (via the EUTR) and voluntary partnerships (VPAs). By including different policy aspects (laws and voluntary guidelines), the impact of a policy mechanism increases.

Besides the specific policies, biodiversity monitoring have improved the technical possibilities to measure GHG emissions. An important part of REDD+ is the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of carbon accounting. In MRV, satellite images or laser scanning have become commonly used technologies to check biodiversity and have had a big impact on the MRV segment of REDD+. These technologies can be applied to more precisely track and trace the sustainable production of agricultural products.

Finally, recent increase of zero-deforestation pledges in the private sector shows the possibilities of further linking agriculture with with forests.

This blog reflects for a part the results of a study on demand side policy for better agricultural production issued by WWF-NL, 2015.

Natura 2000 in the Netherlands

From 2010 to 2014, I was involved in a research on Natura 2000. Natura 2000 is Europe’s network of protected nature areas. I looked at the implementation of Natura 2000 in a Dutch area called Geuldal, Province of Limburg.

Natura 2000 implementation was seen as a pretty straightforward process. It resembled the Dutch way of looking after nature and the implementation of it should be easy. But the case of the Geuldal, a case that was even known as one of the good examples of Natura 2000 implementation, shows that any change in policy results in unexpected reactions. The drafting of the management plan was done rather quickly in 2009 but did not sufficiently address all the consequences. This uncertainty still has a big effect on the people living in the area. In particular the farmers see Natura 2000 as a possible future threat.


Community forestry in Bolivia


My field visits to Bolivia happened over a number of times in the period 2006-2009. All my work took place in villages near a town called Riberalta (see map). This was work I needed to do for my PhD research on forest policies and their effect on small farmers in the Amazon region of Bolivia.

In Bolivia I focussed my research on 3 communities relatively near to the town of Riberalta. In these communities, forestry is one of the sources of income. The main income comes from the harvesting of Brazil nut, also known as castana. The harvest season is an important time of the year as the income that comes from this is in most instances the most important income of the year.


Ecotourism in Papua New Guinea

My travel to Papua New Guinea was my first real taste of fieldwork. From September 1999 to April 2000, I went with a fellow student and friend to the middle of nowhere of Papua New Guinea. We spend 7 months there, submerged in the local communities and trying to survive without running water or electricity.

In the Lakekamu Basin, we analysed a small ecotourism project that was set up as part of a ICDP. ICDP stands for Integrated Conservation and Development Project. By introducing ecotourism, the community was offered a possibility to make money while nature was to be conserved. Tourist would be attracted by the richness in biodiversity and the adventure of ‘ living in the wild’. The study looked at how the ecotourism project impacted on the local livelihoods.