PhD defence: Augusto Carlos Castro Nuñez – Københavns Universitet

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PhD defence: Augusto Carlos Castro Nuñez

Augusto Carlos Castro Nuñez defends his thesis,

Forest carbon-storage as a peacebuilding strategy: Evidence from Colombia

Professor Ole Mertz, IGN

Assessment Committee:
Associate Professor Martin Rudbeck Jepsen (chair), IGN
Senior Ecologist Finn Danielsen, NORDECO
Professor Eric Lambin, Stanford University, USA, and Université Catholoque de Louvain, Belgium

Many of the armed-conflicts in tropical regions occur in areas with high forest-cover. Generally, these areas are known for their physical potential to implement programs for forest carbon storage. Despite this important correlation, it remains uncertain what links, if any, exist between forest carbon biomass and armed conflicts. With this in mind, the present dissertation utilizes household-level surveys and data at the municipal-scale to assess potential for the integration of forest-carbon storage and peacebuilding efforts. Specifically, household surveys were used to identify factors explaining farmers’ propensity to adopt forest carbon conservation practices in situations of armed-conflicts. Meanwhile, data at the municipal-scale was used to: (1) investigate potential geographic overlaps between peacebuilding and forest carbon storage and peace building programs at national and regional levels; and (2) assess how joint outcomes of the interactions between ‘carbon-storage’, ‘armed-conflict’ and ‘deforestation rates’ are linked to social, institutional and economic factors. Our results indicate important local-level complementarities between peacebuilding and carbon storage programs. Results suggest high potential for adoption of REDD+ among conflict affected farmers and that peacebuilding efforts, such as land tenure programs, predispose farmers toward forest conservation. Nonetheless, deforestation is still present in the study area. Similarly, our results show potential national and regional level synergies between forest carbon storage and peacebuilding efforts. However, synergies would occur under specific contexts, such as regions where high conflict indicators geographically overlap with high content of forest carbon biomass as well as with high deforestation rates. Additionally, our results indicate conditions conducive to continued armed-conflict: competition for control of scarce resources (i.e. land); sites of grievances (i.e. agricultural colonization frontiers with forced migration due to land-access inequalities and violence); availability of high-value natural resources (i.e. outputs of illegal crop production) to finance agricultural colonization and guerrilla movements; and proximity to forested areas that might serve as cover for armed groups. Results also show that forest commons apparently reverse and reduce the causes of conflicts, and simultaneously provide contributions to carbon storage and to meeting local communities’ basic needs.

The thesis is available from the PhD administration, office 04.1.417