Does the fact that an area is both an indigenous reserve and a national park help saving it from deforestation? That is what Camilo De Los Rios Rueda wanted to find out in his master’s thesis, that won the Gunnar Köhlin’s Best Master Thesis Award.
Camilo De Los Rios Rueda is originally from the southern highlands of Colombia, but is currently living in Washington DC, where he works for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as a research fellow. He got the award virtually at the last day of EfD’s 14th Annual Meeting.
“I’m really happy that someone besides my advisors actually have read my paper and that an organization like EfD likes it”, says Camilo De Los Rios Rueda.
His interest in environmental economics started early, growing up on a farm and being taught at a young age to respect and to be gentle towards animals and plants.
“We reforested large parts of the farm that were better, in environmental terms, to have as forests than as farming land, like close to the river or to steep mountains. I got really passionate about that work. You could even say that I am obsessed with forests”, says Camilo De Los Rios Rueda.
The name of the thesis is: “The Double Fence: Overlapping Institutions and Deforestation in the Columbian Amazon”. The term “double fence” refers to the fact that an area is both an indigenous reserve and a national park. The national park is being administered at the national level and the reserve is managed locally. Two legal frameworks have to coexist. And what’s the answer to the question – does this double fence make any difference?
“Yes, I found that it really does. In places where there isn’t this overlap, there is no protection of the forest, the way it is where the double fence exists. The extra, legal protection granted by protected areas helped to reduce deforestation in the overlapping areas.
Camilo De Los Rios Rueda presented his idea for this paper at last year’s EfD’s Annual Meeting.
“This project wouldn’t be the same without EfD researchers. The idea was born in conversations with EfD Colombia and the support of my advisors and the EfD researchers has been fundamental.”
He currently works at the mining hydrocarbons and geothermal group at IDB, which may be seen as a bit controversial within the environmental economics area. But the IDB focuses on supporting the social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean. So there will surely be many opportunities for the EfD network to see more of Camilo De Los Rios Rueda.