Annual Meeting 2019

Annual Meeting 2019

The FLARE Secretariat is excited to host the 5th annual FLARE meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Join us for a few warm summer days, to collectively reflect on the ways in which FLARE has revealed and produced new knowledge about forests and livelihoods.


Cristina Coc is the director and co-founder of the Julian Cho Society. She has been an activist for Maya Land Rights and forest conservation since 2003, and has worked directly with the Maya villages of Toledo in southern Belize to mobilize for the campaign to secure indigenous land rights. As a Q’eqchi Maya woman she has an intimate knowledge of the issues related to land use and social struggles of the Maya. 

David Kaimowitz leads the Ford Foundation‘s work on natural resources and climate change. His grant making has focused on giving poor rural families greater access to and control over forests and other natural resources, with a particular emphasis on indigenous peoples. 

Key Dates
February 8Call for abstracts distributed
May 1Abstracts and financial assistance requests due
May 14Decision Notifications
May 15 – June 1Earlybird registration
June 2-July 1Regular registration period
July 2- August 10Extended registration for observers
Aug 10-23Late registration
July 7 (approx.)Draft program shared with participants
July 21 (approx.)Conference room blocks released (book your accommodation early!)

Conference Themes

5 years of FLARE: themes, change, and lessons learned

As the FLARE network enters its fifth year of facilitating engagement among researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers, we seek critical reflections on how the FLARE community of practice has promoted cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary knowledge sharing and production. Contributions can describe their own work related to FLARE themes, or identify how FLARE has helped identify new perspectives, ideas, theories, or data; networking and partnerships; or other avenues of engagement and support.

Acknowledging Failure: Learning From Perverse Outcomes and Unintended Feedbacks

Often within research we are pressed to present our successes rather than our failures. This theme encourages transparent discussion on the failures we have all experienced: how they happened, what we did wrong, and especially, how we can learn from them. Failure can be categorized in different ways, such as perverse outcomes or unintended feedbacks. We hope that within this theme, researchers and practitioners can come together and share their knowledge and experiences to help improve the design and implementation of research, practice, and policy on forest management, in order to improve outcomes for forests and livelihoods.

Beyond the Household: Measuring the Impacts of Forest Change on Communities, Economies, and Ecologies

Changing forest conditions have diverse and nested impacts on human and natural systems. However, quantitative studies that assess these impacts often rely on combining household surveys with remotely sensed land-cover data to generate acyclical (i.e. unidirectional) impact estimates. This theme encourages research that goes “beyond the household” by (a) using data collection and analytical techniques that quantitatively assess impacts across scales to focus on how forest cover change influences communities, economies, and ecological outcomes; (b) using household and remotely sensed land cover data to provide inter-scalar insights into community, economic, and ecological impacts from forest cover change; or (c) analyzing feedbacks in coupled human-natural systems.

Environmental Ethics, Equity, Justice, and Activism

Within this theme we call for research that explores environmental ethics, equity, and justice, in the context of forest livelihoods, natural resource management, and forest policies. This theme will encourage discussion related to meanings of justice in research and policy, for instance by highlighting competing claims and the tendency for outcomes to reflect elite interests. Proposals may also shed light on contestations around legitimacy of claims to natural resources and related decision-making. Work that engages with aspects of inequitable / contested distribution of natural and financial resources, and decision-making procedures, and that takes a historical and situated perspective to explain how domination and oppression in the context of distribution and procedures occur subtly and/or overtly, is particularly encouraged. This theme is crucial given that we often engage with individuals at the local level in rural contexts who have their own beliefs, customs, institutions, and needs. Within our own research agendas, we need to be aware if we are taking ethical, just, and equitable approaches for example through ensuring transparency in information. Additionally, this theme welcomes contributions that highlight environmental activism and political protest by stakeholders seeking to disrupt or minimize environmental and human harm as a result of political and economic decisions.

Forests and Livelihoods as Complex Socio-ecological Ecosystems

This theme explores the notion of forest landscapes as coupled human and natural systems, where the natural environment is tightly intertwined with human systems through feedback mechanisms that shape each system and its ability to adapt to changing circumstances. While there has been a plethora of conceptual models of these coupled systems, empirical examinations remain limited. We seek papers that use novel theoretical and methodological tools to quantitatively and qualitatively examine these socio-ecological interdependencies in the sphere of forests and livelihoods. We also welcome the use of complexity science to examine adaptation and resilience of forest-human landscapes, as well as comparisons with other complex systems.

Forests and Livelihoods in the Context of Rural-Urban Transformations

Rapid urbanization is connected to forests, livelihoods, and well-being through direct and indirect pathways. Rural forests and conservation areas are increasingly important for, and transformed by, growing urban populations. Migration patterns and the rise of an increasingly urbanized middle class in the Global South represents a shift in demographic patterns and consumption habits that will influence global forests and forest proximate peoples. This theme calls for research that examines both the direct and indirect influence of urban land and populations on forests and forest related livelihood and well-being. Work submitted under this theme could also address tensions between urban and rural populations, and between these populations and industrial-scale uses/users, as relationships and dependencies on forest resources change.

Forests and the SDGs

This theme focuses on the relationship between the Sustainable Development Goals and forest-related livelihoods. While forests contribute directly to many of the SDGs, whether and how these goals, and their associated targets, are achieved remains a challenge. Abstract submissions should review the two-way relationships between the SDGs and forest livelihoods by examining, for example (a) how actions to sustain and improve rural, forest-related livelihoods contribute to the SDGs (even when such actions are not directly related to the SDGs), or (b) cases where governments and development initiatives actually undermine the values and livelihoods of forest-proximate peoples. Contributions should review the available evidence (and could also comment on data gaps, if relevant) on the subject and suggest key SDG indicators that can be used to monitor changes in forest-related livelihoods. This theme especially seeks contributions related to SDG 13, climate action, inviting research on climate change related events (severe storms, droughts, and forest fires) and how they affect forest livelihoods. Research on how best to prepare local human populations and manage forest resources and livelihood activities to improve climate change resilience and adaptation is welcome.

Forest Policy Mixes: Trade-Offs and Synergies Between Forest Management Institutions

The past decade has seen major advances in our ability assess the outcomes of specific forest-based interventions. However, these advances have not yet addressed the benefits and drawbacks of different forest governance mixes. Forest policy mixes refer to the coordination and (occasionally quite innovative) combination of governance arrangements that unfold across forest landscapes. Thus, this theme moves away from reductionist approaches that seek to isolate individual impacts, to understand how forest policy is coordinated as well as implemented, and with what outcomes. Papers that interrogate why coordination failures occur, with particular attention to the politics that undergird coordination, are encouraged. Research that considers how and when successful coordination between political actors occurs; the implementation of forest governance across scale and space; significant governance departures from conventional integrated conservation and development projects; or the outcomes generated from particular forest policy mixes are particularly welcome.

Formality and Informality in Forest-related Livelihoods

Forestry in many countries is dominated by informal enterprises and activities, operating outside the bounds of government regulatory oversight and formal markets, even while often interacting with formal supply chains. As such, there have been increasing efforts to formalize these actors and supply chains. This process of formalization presents many challenges. We seek papers that examine drivers and benefits of informality, successes and failures of the formalization process, and associated equity and justice considerations.

Gender, Forests, and Livelihoods

Although gender related inequalities in power, resource allocation/distribution and outcomes remain a pervasive concern in forest/livelihoods research and practice, this theme draws particular attention to examples of persistent gender exclusion and conversely, of purposeful gender responsiveness (i.e ‘mainstreaming’) in forest policy and programs.  Work that investigates the increasingly common role of ‘gender experts’ in government and non-government organizations, or that examines broader definitions of and narratives around gender in the forest and livelihood domain is also welcome.

Monitoring and Evaluation of Forest Policies and Interventions

The monitoring and evaluation of forest and livelihood interventions is key to ensuring positive impacts on the ground. However, M&E strategies are often weak, misguided, or entirely absent. This theme calls for exploration of M&E approaches, where they succeed and where they fail, and why. Contributions that put forward specific indicators or sets of indicators for tracking progress and measuring outcomes, while also discussing the challenges of early establishment and continuous implementation are encouraged. Novel, informal, or less well-known approaches (e.g. community-based monitoring or citizen science methods, or those that endeavor to facilitate partnerships between local groups and research/policy organizations, or those using new methods such as machine learning) are welcome, as are comparative assessments of a suite of M&E approaches.

Political Instability and Change

This theme explores the challenges of forestry and livelihood research and practice in politically unstable, sensitive, and contentious areas. Contributions should bring to bear cases where politics and economics are prioritized over the health and wellbeing of forests and those people relying on forests for their livelihoods. For example, what are the consequences of President Bolsonaro’s regime in Brazil, for forest research and conservation in the Amazon, as well as the lives of indigenous inhabitants? How might government unreliability, such as the recent shutdown in the U.S., impact forest management and the livelihoods of those who rely on forests and forest-based work? Cases from the Global South and Global North, and at local, regional, or state levels are welcome. Additionally, work that explores the ways in which the dissemination of forest and livelihood-related information (research findings, policy changes, and programs) is hindered in politically charged contexts, and/or strategic/novel methods for overcoming political barriers to implementation and dissemination is welcome.

Sharing Successes in Forest and Livelihood Research and Practice

Within this theme we offer the opportunity to present our successes both in research and/or in practice. These successes can be explored in a multitude of ways, for example through positive environmental outcomes (e.g. afforestation, forest restoration), stronger inclusion of local knowledge and values in governance; improving local livelihoods; or achieving intended project outcomes. We invite conceptual, framing, modeling, and empirical work (including case studies and cross-case comparative studies) that highlight the role of forests in lifting people out of poverty and spurring broader economic growth (e.g. scaling up of small and medium forest enterprises, community-private sector partnerships, large-scale industrial development of based on forest products, new markets (e.g. for carbon credits) and earnings based on non-wood forest products and the like). Studies that highlight where forest reliance has improved people’s lives and livelihoods while conserving the natural resource base are especially valuable. This theme should bring together researchers and practitioners who hope to spread positive experiences, outcomes, and solutions to help improve both forests and livelihoods.

Abstract Submission and Financial Assistance Requests

Please review the Abstract Guidelines below before submitting your abstract. The deadline for abstract submission is May 1, 2019.

Financial Assistance (application included in abstract submission form): The FLARE Network has funds to support a limited number of students and scholars from lower income countries with small grants to cover registration, travel, accommodation, and other costs associated with attending the meeting. Abstracts must be accepted in order to be eligible. Poster presentations are not eligible for support. Requests are reviewed on the basis of abstract score, the financial need of the presenter, and cost sharing capabilities. If you are submitting more than one abstract, please apply for financial assistance only once. If any one abstract is accepted, your request will be considered.


This is a special call to review and reflect more systematically on the FLARE annual meetings through a plenary roundtable discussion. Interested participants are invited to review past FLARE abstracts for papers presented at the first four FLARE meetings (Access them below). We ask you to prepare an essay of 2,500-3,000 words that assesses, critiques, and summarizes thematic trends across the meetings. In addition to thinking and presenting what you view as common elements across the abstracts, reflect also on their relationship to the larger body of work on forests and livelihoods as also on what has been missed in FLARE. Reviews could focus on substantive themes, methods, disciplinary thrusts, or geographic regions. FLARE will invite up to three authors of submitted essays to present at FLARE5. Invited panel presenters will receive waived registration and a complementary conference dinner ticket.

Access the abstracts from the past four FLARE conferences here:

Submit your reviews at the link below. Reviews are due May 15, and decision notifications will be delivered on May 31.

Coordination Committee

Arun Agrawal, University of Michigan
Dan Brockington, University of Sheffield
J.T Erbaugh, University of Michigan 
Madeleine Fogde, Stockholm Environment Institute
Nicole Gross-Camp, Allegheny College
Malin Gustafsson, University of Gothenburg
Reem Hajjar, Oregon State University
Christian Pilegaard Hansen, University of Copenhagen
Jordi Honey-Roses, University of British Columbia
Pamela Jagger; University of Michigan
Suhyun Jung, University of Michigan
Chuan Liao, Arizona State University
Wenman Liu, University of Michigan
Jens Friis Lund, University of Copenhagen
Francescsa McGrath, University of Michigan
Daniel Miller, UIUC
Rodd Myers, University of East Anglia
Iben Nathan, University of Copenhagen
Pete Newton, University of Colorado at Boulder
Johan Oldekop, University of Manchester
Laura Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen
Ashwin Ravikumar, Amherst College
Rebecca Rutt, University of Copenhagen
Ingrid Stjernquist, Stockholm University
Jonathan Sullivan, University of Michigan
Cristy Watkins, University of Michigan
Sarah Wilson, PARTNERS reforestation network
Jennifer Zavaleta, University of Michigan

Scientific Committee

Krister Andersson, University of Colorado at Boulder
Christopher Barrett, 
Cornell University
Tony Bebbington, 
Clark University
Rosina Bierbaum, 
University of Michigan
Guillermo Castilleja, 
Moore Foundation
Robin Chazdon, 
University of Connecticut
Stanley Dinsi, 
Network For Environment and Sustainable Development-Cameroon
Michael Dove, 
Yale University
Nicole Gross-Camp
Allegheny College
Paul Ferraro, 
Johns Hopkins University
David Kaimowitz, 
Ford Foundation
Eric Lambin, 
Stanford University
Adrian Martin
University of East Anglia
Jan McAlpine, 
International Consultant
Arthur Mugisha
AIMM Green, Uganda
Tuyeni Mwampamba, 
Harini Nagendra, 
Azim Premji University
Robert Nasi. 
Jesse Ribot
American University
Sven Wunder,
European Forest Institute