In recent years we have been leading research and consultancy in the following projects:

  1. Characterization and evaluation of forest degradation as a key factor in Mexico´s strategies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change (CONACyT Cátedra project)
  2. Benefit sharing options for REDD+ activities in the Yucatan peninsula from a pro-poor perspective
  3. Analysis of the drivers of deforestation and degradation in Mexico
  4. Addressing forest degradation in Mexico through REDD+
  5. MRV for the REDD+ pilot project in the Ayuquila Basin, Jalisco
  6. Linking local action to international climate agreements in the tropical dry forests of Mexico
  7. Spatiotemporal dynamics of charcoal supply chains: modeling what-if scenarios
  8. Modeling fuelwood-driven forest degradation at the landscape level
  1. Characterization and evaluation of forest degradation as a key factor in Mexico´s strategies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change (CONACyT Cátedra project)
    Duration: 10 years, 2014-2024
    Funding Source: CONACyT (Mexican Scientific Research Council)
    Institutions involved: CIGA
    PI: Margaret Skutsch
    Cátedra position: Sept 2014-December 2015, Jaime Paneque Galvez; from June 2016, Armonia Borrego
    Geographic Context: Jalisco, Yucatan and national

    The aim of the project is to explore and design new mapping methods and models to quantify forest degradation. This also involves analysis of drivers of degradation and an assessment of the effectiveness of public policies such as PES. We approach not only from a top down ´objective´ scientific position but particularly from a bottom up point of view (i.e. how communities and local land owners understand what causes degradation and what the effectiveness of policies is, and how they themselves respond to initiatives such as REDD+ at the local level).(up main)

  2. Benefit sharing options for REDD+ activities in the Yucatan peninsula from a pro-poor perspective
    Duration: May 2014-June 2015
    Funding Source: IUCN
    Main institutes involved: CIGA
    PI: Margaret Skutsch/Arturo Balderas
    Geographical Context: Yucatan

    The project explored the potential for design of a pro-poor benefit distribution system for REDD+ in Mexico. This is not a simple task, as we show that in general it is richer people, rather than poorer ones who are involved in deforestation. We distinguish between different types of benefit distribution, particularly those based on output payments (per ton of carbon saved) and those based on input payments (which pay for activities rather than outputs). Although many activities will inevitably benefit richer people we find that there are specific activities which could involve poorer people, such as those who do not have ejidal or communal rights to land. In particularly, clean up operations after hurricane damage would greatly benefit REDD+ objectives and could employ a great deal of labour. Credit systems to enable poorer people to start family businesses rather than depend on firewood marketing were also proposed. We proposed a mixed system of payments whereby increments in carbon stock could be rewarded on the basis of performance while reductions in emissions could be incentivized by input payments. This has been dubbed ´Two can Tango´ because of its dual character and potential for progressive social distribution of REDD+ benefits.(up main)

  3. The River Ayuquila

  4. Analysis of the drivers of deforestation and degradation in Mexico
    Duration: June 2013 to July 2015
    Funding source: Comisión Nacional Forestal (CONAFOR)
    Institutions involved:  CIGA, CIEco
    PI: Margaret Skutsch
    Geographic Context:  national

    The project consists of three parts.  Firstly, a quantitative analysis of deforestation and degradation has been made at national scale for the period 1990-2010 (land cover change, using existing INEGI maps and data from high resolution remote sensing sources as available).  Geographically weighted regression were applied to  data from secondary sources aggregated at municipal level, on possible drivers (social and physical).  This resulted in the identification of geographical regions in which different groups of drivers appear to explain the rate of loss of forest cover (deforestation) and the rate of loss of density of forests (degradation).  The second part of the study was carried out in the field, in 30 ‘hot-spots’ identified as having been subject to particularly high levels of deforestation and/or degradation in the last 5 years.  Ejidos, communities and private property owners in these areas were surveyed using community level and household questionnaires, with a view to developing in-depth understanding of the processes by which drivers of deforestation and degradation operate.  Finally, in the third part of the study,  the impact of fuelwood provisioning on loss of forest and on degradation rates was examined, through a case study of demand for fuelwood and modelling the social and physical processes of supply. (up main)

  5. Addressing forest degradation in Mexico through REDD+
    Duration: April 2011 to October 2013
    Funding Source: ClimateWorks
    Main institutions involved: CIGA-UNAM
    PI: Margaret Skutsch
    Geographic Context: Ayuquila and Cuitzeo Basins, Jaliso and Michoacan states, Mexico

    This project, which was supported by ClimateWorks, focused on understanding the processes which drive degradation (as opposed to deforestation) of forests in Mexico, with a focus on dry forests in Michoacán and Jalisco states. Emissions from degradation have in general been greatly underestimated, due to a lack of reliable data (few systematic forest inventories, data cannot be gained from remote sensing as most stock changes are below the canopy); methods for quantifying degradation-related emissions need to be improved. Moreover, effective mitigation interventions to deal with degradation may be very different from those designed to limit deforestation. A thorough assessment of what interventions are best suited to deforestation and what to various types of degradation is urgently required. A priori it may be expected that community forest management (CFM) is better at dealing with degradation than with deforestation, because of the lower opportunity costs involved; its effectiveness will depend to a large extent on the whether the degradation involves strong external actors and markets or not, as well as institutional factors specific to the community. Importantly, CFM often results in forest enhancement in addition to reduced degradation. It was found to be easier to reward communities for measured increases in stock than for estimated decreases in degradation. This type of discussion and analysis is paramount for the successful implementation of REDD+.(up main)

  6. MRV for the REDD+ pilot project in the Ayuquila Basin, Jalisco

    Tropical dry forest in the dry season, and members of the research team

    General Description:
    This project was carried out for JIRA, the Junta Intermunicipial del Rio Ayuquila, in connection with one of Mexico´s pilot REDD+ projects, with funding from the Agence Francais de Developpement (AFD). The project covered around 40,000 ha with 10 municipalities in Jalisco state. Our role was to develop model methodology for measuring forest cover and forest density change, and workable procedures which could be replicated in other areas. We experimented with different scales of analysis and different approaches, focusing particularly on degradation, since this is the factor about which least is known.

    Part 1: Análisis de cambio de cobertura y uso del suelo, escenario de referencia de carbono y diseño preliminar del mecanismo MRV en la JIRA (MRV for the REDD+ pilot project in the Ayuquila Basin, Jalisco)
    Duration: May 2011 to October 2011

    1. Estimate 1995-2010 deforestation rates and its geographical expression in the ten municipalities of the JIRA;
    2. Determine the proximate causes of deforestation, and their relative importance in different areas of the territory under study;
    3. Propose a system of reference emission levels (NRE) for deforestation;
    4. Designing a system profile for Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) for deforestation.

    Part 2: Estudio para determinar el estado de degradación y potencial de restauración en ecosistemas forestales bajo manejo de la cuenca baja del río Ayuquila 
    Duration: May 2012 to June 2013

  7. Oaks harvested for charcoal production in central mexico
  8. Linking local action to international climate agreements in the tropical dry forests of Mexico
    Duration: Funding Source: WOTRO Science for Global Development
    Main institutions involved: University of Twente, ITC and CIGA-UNAM
    PI: Margaret Skutsch
    Students: Alejandra Larrázabal, Miguel Salinas, Janik Granados
    Supervisors: Mike McCall, Anne van der Veen, Jon Lovett, Yola Georgiadou, Alejandro Velázquez, Gerardo Bocco.
    Postdoc: Arturo Balderas
    Geographic Context: Tropical dry forest in Jalisco and Michoacan states

    In this study, which was financed by WOTRO ( the Netherlands programme Science for Global Development) we looked at a variety of issues relating to Payments for Environmental Services and REDD+, specifically in the tropical dry forests (selvas bajas). The principal questions we addressed were: to what extent community forestry may benefit from carbon markets under REDD+, and to what extent tropical dry forests may contribute to reduction in emissions and climate mitigation, Since REDD+ has no yet started, this was done largely on the basis of analysis of existing PES programmes, through a variety of specialized studies. These include a study of the capacity of communities to manage, map and monitor their forests and changes in them, the biophysical effects of different management interventions on carbons stock dynamics and on other environmental services, and the role of information in PES systems and an analysis of different ways in which forests are conceptualised and represented in the official and vernacular context. The research also includes critical analysis of international and national policy on REDD+. The project ended with an international workshop "The Science and Practice of Carbon Management in Tropical Dry Forest of Mexico" 3-4 sept 2015, Mexico, D.F.  (up main)

  9. Spatiotemporal dynamics of charcoal supply chains: modeling what-if scenarios
    Duration: September 2009 to March 2013
    Funding Source:ClimateWorks and PAPIIT UNAM
    Main institutions involved: CIGA-UNAM
    PIs: Adrian Ghilardi and Margaret Skutsch
    Geographic Context: Cuitzeo basin, central Mexico
    What have been the patterns of degradation over space and time in the last 20 years and what proportion of the degradation can be attributed to charcoal production? These are the main questions addressed by the project.
    The main objectives of the research are to:
    1. Generate concrete scenarios of charcoal productions which incorporate a) an increase in the efficiency of production and transport of oak based charcoal and b) areas of conservation and restoration.
    2. Quantify the impact of tradicional charcoal production on oak forests, in terms of geographical distributionm, species diversity, density of trees, growth ratesm survival, ecosytem vigour and genetic diversity.
    3. Qunatify the net GHG emissions associated with production, transport and end use of oak based charcoal, and propose scenarios based on otgher systems of management and alternative technology.
    4. Generate robust scientific data for the design of sustainable oak harvesting systems.
    5. Diversity the use of oak timber and other products to provided added value (e.g. high quality furniture)). (up main)

  10. Modeling fuelwood-driven forest degradation at the landscape level
    Duration: September 2011 to August 2013
    Funding Source: Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies and Proyecto Mirador
    Main institutions involved: CIGA-UNAM and Yale University
    PIs: Adrian Ghilardi and Rob Bailis
    Geographic Context: Western Honduras

    The aim was to valuate the implications of fuelwood harvesting for residential end-use in local land cover and global climate. In particular we are building a geospatial dynamic model to render better quantitative estimate of fuelwood-driven forest degradation at the landscape level. The core questions explored with the geospatial modeling technique were:
    1. How much woodfuel is being harvested at a given location within a specific time frame?
    2. How does the vegetation respond to this pressure, as measured by its aboveground biomass stock and growth rate?
    3. How do changes in woodfuel demand (for example, through the dissemination of fuel-conserving stoves) alter this harvest-regrowth pattern in time? (up main)
  11. Opportunities for forest enhancement

    In addition, we participated in the following projects:

  12. Study of benefit sharing mechanisms for REDD+  in the MREDD Early Action Areas.

    Duration: June 2013 to September 2013
    Funding Source:  TNC/MREDD from USAID funds
    Persons involved:  Arturo Balderas Torres, Margaret Skutsch
    Geographical context: the 6 REDD+ Early Action Areas of the MREDD+ programme.

  13. Implementación de acciones tempranas REDD+ en cuencas prioritarias de México.

    Duration: May 2013 to May 2015
    Funding Source: Alianza REDD+Mexico/USAID
    Institutions involved:  Alianza REDD+,MREDD, CCMSS, Alternare, CIGA
    Geographical context:  Cutzamala, Michoacan

  14. (up main)