...exploring how people shape the world's forests

Featured Researcher

Benin Pix 764Dan has been associated with IFRI for well over a decade, first through his work with the MacArthur Foundation, a longstanding supporter of IFRI research, then as a PhD student at the University of Michigan, and now as Assistant Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dan’s research and teaching focus on international environmental politics and policy. He is especially interested in understanding the conservation and development impacts of international aid in tropical countries and the political factors that shape those impacts.  He works in a variety of settings around the world, but has a strong geographic interest in Africa and on forests more generally.

Dan’s PhD research examined the social and ecological impacts of an aid-funded conservation project in and around the W National Park, a large protected area that spans territory in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger. In the picture above, you can see a focus group interview in the W National Park Buffer Zone, Petchinga, Benin. This research highlights the important effect that national political context can have in shaping the implementation and outcomes of international biodiversity funding.

His current research seeks to understand the longer-term impacts of forest programs and policies on biodiversity and poverty, including through the development and testing of predictive proxy indicators.  Related work is assessing whether and how forests and trees in rural landscapes can provide resources and services that not only enable poverty reduction but also greater prosperity at the household all the way up to the national level.

Dan currently serves as Vice-President of the Society for Conservation Biology’s Social Science Working Group.  Prior to joining the faculty at Illinois, Dan was Senior Forestry Specialist at the Program on Forests at the World Bank.  He previously held positions at the MacArthur Foundationin Chicago and Yayasan Dian Tama, a local NGO in West Kalimanatan, Indonesia.  He completed his Ph.D. in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan earned his undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Political Science at the University of Illinois.

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