In March 2023, Leonardo Calzada, a Ph.D. candidate in the Geography Department, attended the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) in Denver, CO to present his paper "Forest degradation patterns and Sembrando Vida (Sowing Life) in the Calakmul-Sian Ka'an Biological Corridor, Mexico". Leonardo Calzada’s research analyzes the impact of Sembrando Vida, a Mexican government initiative to plant trees and provide economic incentives for small-scale farmers, on forest management and degradation patterns in the Yucatan. Understanding the effects of forest management and degradation on carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions is crucial for mitigating the impacts of climate change. His presentation was part of the panel on land degradation and conservation framed under the Land Systems Science 2023 Symposium, emphasizing the significance of his research in the context of global environmental challenges such as habitat lost, deforestation and climate change. His work was recognized by the Biogeography Specialty Group (BSG) Student Paper Competition PhD Level.
In addition to his conference presentation, Leonardo was awarded the first place in the Field Study Award granted by the Latin America Specialty Group (LASG). This award will support his project that aims to provide a participatory spatial analysis of the current and future ecological effects of Sembrando Vida in Mexico, including those related to secondary forest carbon sequestration and biomass production at different successional stages. The findings of this research will have implications for policy decisions and practices related to land management, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation. It will also highlight the importance of incorporating local visions and values about the forest in forest management practices, as understanding and respecting local perspectives is crucial for successful conservation efforts.