Robin L. Chazdon – Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) interview (2014)

Robin L. Chazdon is a professor of tropical ecology in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Connecticut. She has been studying natural regeneration in second-growth tropical forest using long term monitoring plots within the landscape matrix surrounding La Selva Biological Field Station in Heredia province of Northeast Costa Rica. She is a palm specialist and has investigated many aspects of this important plant group including physiology and genetics within the context of forest regeneration. The Bosques Project now evolved into a larger multinational project called neoSelvas Collaborative Research Project. In 2015, Science Magazine published a news piece based on her achievements.

In the late 1980s a vision was born by conservation biologists to develop land use planning systems that would link critical habitats in Southern Mexico and Central America to ensure species survival. In 1997 the vision was endorsed as the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC) through a Joint Declaration at the 19th Summit of the Central American Heads of State in Panama. Dr. Chazdon’s work contributes to this ambitious project by motivating land owners to allow forests to regenerate naturally and thus increase connectivity among forest habitats. The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor aims to interconnect eight countries beginning from southern states of Mexico in the north to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama in the south.

She is now the Executive Director of Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC). There is a planned trans-oceanic canal in Nicaragua which will have catastrophic effects on the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and ATBC has declared a resolution on this issue.

Dr. Chazdon also served as the chief editor of the peer reviewed scientific journal Biotropica. She wrote a number of books including Second-growth and is a co-editor of the book Foundations of Tropical Forest Biology where landmark pioneering tropical biological manuscripts were reprinted with commentaries. Her projects on reforestation in tropical countries beginning from Costa Rica has been featured in a 2014 New York Times article. Her experience in successful forestry practices in Costa Rica motivated her further to expand the model into other tropical countries worldwide. She spearheaded the People and Reforestation in the Tropics: a Network for Research and Synthesis PARTNERS.

PARTNERS: People and Reforestation in the Tropics: a Network for Education Research and Synthesis from Robin Chazdon on Vimeo.

Her ideas are disseminated by a number of like-minded organizations including Landscapes for People, Food and Nature an international collaborative initiative of knowledge sharing, dialogue and action to promote integrated landscape management for improved food production, ecosystem conservation, and sustainable livelihoods.

In 2015 Dr. Chazdon was awarded a National Geographic Grant with the title “Seedling regeneration and tree-frugivore interaction networks during tropical forest regeneration”. She also received a new grant through the Organization for Tropical Studies with a group of collaborators funded by the Costa Rica Debt for Nature Fund on “Forests and citizen science: a pilot program on ecosystem services and landscape connectivity through natural forest regeneration on private farms.”

 

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