Department of Geography and the Environment

Sustainability Science in the Tropical Andes

Mon, October 9, 2017
Sustainability Science in the Tropical Andes
View from within montane forest overlooking road in the southern Peruvian Andes

Forests in the Andes Mountains of South America provide natural resources to local people, and habitat to a diverse assemblage of plants and animals. They persist despite often occurring as remnants amid agricultural fields and in landscapes used for grazing livestock.

Recently two member of the Department of Geography & the Environment, Professor Kenneth Young and doctoral student Aaron Groth, participated in a series of activities that culminated in the open access publication entitled “Research priorities for the conservation and sustainable governance of Andean forest landscapes” ( in the journal Mountain Research and Development.

Some four dozen researchers and practitioners participated in workshops in Ecuador, Peru and Switzerland to develop a conceptual framework of the kind of sustainability knowledge needed for both conservation and use of these forests. The livelihoods of local people is placed at the center of the Andean social-ecological systems, affected by how the forests function ecologically, how they are utilized, and what are overall development goals for particular rural landscapes.

Challenges to sustainability include the effects of global socio-environmental change, needs for ecosystem services and robust governance models, and missing knowledge of how to restore and manage Andean forest landscapes. Aaron Groth is examining the details of how governance affects forest conservation in southern Peru, while Kenneth Young is participating in further efforts to map the remaining forests found the countries of the tropical Andes.

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  • Department of Geography and the Environment

    The University of Texas at Austin
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