The political ecology of oil palm, people and forest conservation: searching for a balanced approach to development in the Peruvian Amazon

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Member: Ecosystems Governance Group

Academic Profile

Aoife's Dphil research has three overarching questions:

    1. How does pro-agricultural modernization policy for rural development in the Amazon farm-forest frontier impact regional forest landscape and local socio-economic realities?

    2. How, in turn, do regional and local cultures and political economies influence the success or failure of such policies?

    3. What policy and/or project mechanisms can be proposed to encourage a more holistic approach to rural development that includes positive forest conservation outcomes?

To answer these questions Aoife is taking the case of oil palm and secondary (or regenerating) forests on smallholder farms in the Amazon region of Ucayali, Peru. Aoife has an interdisciplinary and mixed methods approach to this research, which includes natural science methods such as biomass census techniques and remote sensing, as well as a diversity of social science methodologies including large household surveys, participant observation and discourse analysis. Her DPhil work is being undertaken in collaboration with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Peru.

Previously, Aoife completed her MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management here in the department, when she looked at the socio-economic and environmental impacts of wood charcoal production and distribution between the Peruvian Amazon and National markets. It was during this time that she established a deep love for the Peruvian Amazon and its people.

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Funding and Awards

  • Principal DPhil Funding Body: Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
  • 2016: Royal Geographic Society Frederick Soddy Graduate Award
  • 2016: Caird Fund for Ecological Research
  • 2015: International Timber Trade Organization Fellowship Award