Tropical deforestation is an important contributor to climate change, through the release of significant amounts of carbon in the atmosphere. The main proximate cause of deforestation in tropical regions is agricultural expansion, followed by timber extraction.
To examine this phenomenon and suggest ways to slow down this process, Associate Professors Graziano Ceddia and Dimitris Christopolous from the Department of Sustainable Development and Public Governance have recently been awarded a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant along with Nick Bardsley from University of Reading, UK.
The ERC Consolidator Grant Concerning is one of the most competitive research grants in Europe with a success rate of about 15% of applications. This year only 9 ERC Consolidator Grants were awarded in Austria, and the MU project was the only one awarded in the field of social sciences.
The grant, which is worth about 2 million euros, supports a 5-year research project that will look at the role of indigenous peoples rights to land and territory in slowing down deforestation in the dry Chaco forest in North-Western Argentina, a region characterized by high rates of land cover change and the presence of indigenous/rural communities.
The MU project titled ‘’Indigenous Communities, Land Use and Tropical Deforestation’’ seeks to understand how the interaction of technological, environmental, economic and social factors influence land use dynamics, including household decisions, about agricultural expansion and resource extraction in sensitive tropical regions.
With the assistance of researchers in Austria, England and Argentina, the project team will also explore the role of various governance structures, particularly those recognizing common property regimes of land tenure to indigenous and rural communities, and the deliberative evaluation about the opportunity of reforming such structures in order to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.
‘’This research will help us to understand how different institutional context affect indigenous peoples rights to land and territory and consequently deforestation and forest degradation’’
“Getting this grant is an important recognition of the work I have been doing on tropical deforestation over the past 3 years. But such an achievement would have never been possible without the significant contributions from colleagues like Dimitris and Nick and collaborators in Argentina” says Graziano.
The staff and faculty of MU congratulates Graziano and Dimitris on this great achievement!