Society diversity

International Society of Tropical Foresters Hosts 28th Annual Conference

The International Society of Tropical Foresters is hosting its 28th annual conference, which will focus on restoration and recovery in the tropics.

Staff reporter

Courtesy of Ryan Smith

The 28th annual conference organized by the International Society of Tropical Foresters, or ISTF, kicked off on Thursday and will see participants and panelists from more than 90 countries come together online to discuss landscape restoration and recovery in the tropics.

Hosted by students from the Yale School of the Environment, this year’s ISTF conference focuses on the theme Rethinking Restoration and Recovery: Landscapes of the Past, Present, and Future in the Tropics. Participants will address issues ranging from policy to finance in the context of tropical forestry and the COVID-19 pandemic. While the conference, which is usually held in person at Kroon Hall, was originally scheduled to be run in a hybrid format, it will now be held virtually due to the global spike in COVID-19 cases.

“In this conference, we try to bring out other voices that come from the field, like people who work in projects, indigenous communities, people who have knowledge and sometimes it is difficult for them to be here”, co-chaired the Claudia dit Ochoa ENV ’22 conference. “This conference is about that. It’s about making sure everyone has a voice, that everyone can learn, share and make time to reflect.

Ochoa, an environmental lawyer from Peru, first attended a Yale ISTF conference on the topic of sustainability in 2016 and highlighted the conference’s role in bringing people together. At a later conference, she met Ryan Smith ENV ’23, who had worked in Peru with Ochoa’s mutual friends. Smith now co-chairs the conference with her.

This year’s conference will take place January 27-29 and will feature speakers from industry, academia, activism and beyond. More than 700 attendees have registered for the free conference, according to co-chair Mariana Camacho Fernandez ENV ’22. Relevant topics will include responding to local needs, preserving biodiversity and combating degradation. Panels on the first day will focus on political ecology, restoring tropical forests and discussions on the United Nations Restoration Decade.

“Every year, as a team, we try to find a theme that is timely,” Camacho Fernandez said. “This year, something very important is the United Nations Restoration Decade. From the outset, when we sat down as co-chairs over the summer to think about what the conference should look like, we knew it had to have some sort of connection to the United Nations Restoration Decade.

This year’s conference is sponsored by the Cullman Institute, the Leitner Family Fund, the Yale MacMillan Center’s Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies, and two YSE Learning Communities in addition to the Yale School of the Environment.

The conference was to take place in a hybrid format with online participation and in-person speeches, according to Smith. In a normal year, participants usually number around 250 and congregate at Kroon Hall, but due to the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19, members will now be tuning in from all over the world.

“With the virtual format, there’s a silver lining,” Smith said. “It makes it more accessible to more people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend… We don’t know exactly how many will attend. [each session]but just by the number of registrants, we already have about 150 more than last year.

Smith also highlighted the role social media plays in publicity and highlighted the work of Carolina Sánchez ENV ’23, who led the ISTF communications team in publicizing the conference.

The conference will begin with an introduction by Florencia Montagnini, director of the School of Environment’s program in tropical forestry and agroforestry, and end with closing remarks by Liza Comita, professor of tropical forest ecology.

“Generally, we were looking for diversity in theme, geographic origin, gender, race, etc.,” Nadeem Demian, a member of the ENV ’22 GRD ’22 panels, wrote in an email. at News. “To speak specifically for the finance panel, we were specifically looking for a representative from the Emergent Forest Finance Accelerator, which has received a lot of press in recent years for its pivotal role in facilitating the Coalition for Emissions Reductions by accelerating finance (LEAF), someone from the government’s point of view, and someone who helps set up these ‘on the ground’ funding programs in forested countries.

Demian expressed confidence in the panels’ ability to explain the finances of tropical forestry. He pointed to the caliber of speakers at the conference, which includes Senior Advisor to Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative Hege Ragnhildstveit, Emerging Markets Vice President Bryan McCann and Finance and Policy Director of EcoAgriculture Partners Juan C. Ramos.

Another member of the panels team, Charly Frisk ENV ’23, also noted that Minnie Degawan, an indigenous Kankanaey-Igorot person from the Philippines who contributed to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will bring “a lens to the panel that centers such justice and accountability that must be centered at the forefront of environmental efforts.

The Yale Student Chapter of the ISTF was established in 1989.


Hamera Shabbir covers golf and fencing for the sports office and the School of Environment for the science and technology office. Originally from Central Valley, California, she is a sophomore at Branford College majoring in political science with an interdisciplinary concentration in environmental studies.