Protected Area Financing in Megadiverse Upper-Middle Income Countries


Academic Profile

Sergio is a doctoral student in the School of Geography and the Environment. He holds a bachelor degree in Biological Sciences and a masters degree in Animal Biology from the University of Brasília. In his masters dissertation, he developed a taxonomic and systematic review of the Curvitermes and Cyrilliotermes genera of Isoptera.

Sergio is an environmental analyst of the Federal Ministry of the Environment, currently on a leave of absence. Prior to joining the DPhil programme, he worked mostly with Protected Area policies in several branches of the Ministry, having been appointed on different periods of time as Special Projects Manager, Director of Protected Areas, Chief of Staff for the Vice Minister and Director of Strategic Management. Most notably he coordinated the proposition and implementation of several Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and bilateral German Cooperation projects, and headed the Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA) in it's second phase and on the development and fundraising for its third phase.

Current Research

Sergio's main research interests focus on the long-term development challenges associated with financing the conservation agenda in developing countries. Building on his governmental experience with international donors and policy debates (notably under the Convention on Biological Diversity), the research is trying to bring a new angle to the debate of protected areas, framing them as public goods, and the design of new long-term resilient financial mechanisms to prevent retraction on protected area systems due to economic fluctuations and societal value change towards these areas.

Sergio is also engaged with the Smith School's Recapitalising Conservation Project that seeks to expand funding for conservation beyond public and philanthropic sources.

Research Abstract

Protected areas are the key instrument for the conservation of biodiversity. In its modern form, these areas predate the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the global protected estate grew from less than 10 thousand to over 200 thousand areas, covering 14% of continental and 10% of jurisdictional marine areas.

The effort to expand the PAs estate was not evenly distributed amongst countries, picking up speed after the 1980ies, but still leaving key areas unrepresented. A series of developing countries was responsible for the large expansion of the PA estate after the CBD entered into force, most notably a group of megadiverse upper high middle income, like Brazil, Colombia and South Africa (figure 1).

The current PAs carry great opportunity and maintenance costs, but are valuable elements to safeguard biodiversity, a notable public good. The effort of the developing countries towards this agenda has received some financial resources from international sources, under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. But, these resources might not be sufficient to guarantee long term financial resilience for these PAs, and if this comes to pass, the areas might be affected or even degazetted.

This thesis will investigate PA systems of 11 countries megadiverse upper middle income countries, developing frameworks to evaluate each area and the systems and looking at their dynamics of national and international financing. Parallel to this, it will theorize on the possibility of framing PAs as public goods, and, with under this premise, develop scenarios to increment their overall long-term financing.

Relative area of PA systems organized by income

Figure 1 - Relative area of PA systems organized by income (high income - blue, upper middle income - light green, lower middle income - red, low income orange). Likeminded megadiverse countries marked with black borders. MUMI countries (to the left) represent over 25% of the global land PA estate.

Current Teaching


  • Jepson, P., Caldecott, B., Schmitt, S.F., Carvalho, S.H.C., Correia, R.A., Malhado, A.C.M., Gamarra, N., Bragagnolo, C. and Ladle, R.J. (in press, 2017) Protected Area Asset Stewardship. Biological Conservation.