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We work on the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources in tropical forest landscapes under transition. Lands use changes, livelihoods, sustainabilitiy, governance and participatory management are strong elements of our research.

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The Forest Management and Development (ForDev) research group is a joint partnership between ETH Zurich and the Research Unit Goods and Services of Tropical Forest Ecosystems from CIRAD, the French Centre for International Research on Agronomy and Development. 

ForDev partners include international organizations such as CIFOR, the Centre for International Forestry Research and the CGIAR Research Program onForestsTrees and Agroforestry (FTA). ForDev collaborates with research institutes, international NGOs and local partners, including private groups.


Waeber PO, Wilmé L, Mercier J-R, Camara C, Lowry PP II. 2016. How Effective Have Thirty Years of Internationally Driven Conservation and Development Efforts Been in Madagascar? PLoS ONE 11(8): e0161115. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161115 ((PDF, 1.4 MB)

Wilmé, L. , Waeber, P.O., Moutou, F.,  Gardne, C., Razafindratsima, O., Sparks, J., Kull, K. C.,  Ferguso, B.,  Lourenço, R, W., Jenkins,D,P., Ramamonjisoa, L., Burney, A.D., Lowry II, P.P. 2016. A proposal for ethical research conduct in Madagascar. Madagascar Conservation & Development, 11(1): 36-39. (PDF, 603 KB)

Lourenco, R. W., Waeber, P.O., Wilmé, L.. 2016. The geographical pattern of distribution of the genus Tityobuthus Pocock, 1890, a typical Ananterinae element endemic to Madagascar (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Comptes Rendus Biologies.

Wilmé, L., Waeber, P.O., Ganzhorn, J.U. 2016. Human translocation as an alternative hypothesis to explain the presence of giant tortoises on remote islands in the Southwestern Indian Ocean. Journal of biogeography, doi:10.1111/jbi.12751.


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We are engaged in collaborative research projects across the tropics, (1) trying to understand change in tropical forest landscapes, (2) representing complex social and ecological systems through participatory models and agent based simulation and (3) fostering discussion and supporting collective decision making on natural resources management.

We are learning to develop models that merge local ecological knowledge and scientific expertise. We use games to explore possible futures of landscape changes with the stakeholders, and design with them theories of change. 

Our flagship projects are CoForTips and CoForSet in the Congo Basin, and AlaReLa in Madagascar. We have several ongoing PhD research projects in Nepal, India, Madagascar, and soon in Colombia.

In addition to research, we develop training courses at ETH and beyond, on our approach of transdisciplinarity based on facilitation and participatory modelling.

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ForDev is part of the Professorship of Ecosystem Management supervised by Prof. Dr. J. Ghazoul.

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