$4.8M gift to Yale to promote biodiversity conservation in tropical forests

New Haven, Conn.--An environmental leadership and training program to promote biodiversity conservation in tropical forests in Asia and Central and South America has been established at Yale University with a $4.8 million gift from the Lisbet Rausing Charitable Fund.

"Worldwide environmental challenges reflect deep disparities in the capacities of nations, institutions, communities and individuals to develop and implement solutions that sustain both human societies and the biosphere," said Mark Ashton, the program's principal investigator and professor of silviculture and forest ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). "The future success of conservation efforts requires a major enhancement of social capital in the developing world."

The program's co-principal investigators are Lisa Curran, associate professor of tropical resources; Amity Doolittle, lecturer and program director of the Tropical Resources Institute; and Brad Gentry, senior lecturer in sustainable investments.

The Tropical Resources Institute at F&ES, in partnership with the Center for Tropical Forest Science of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, will coordinate the program, which will build the environmental conservation and management capacity of individuals, communities and institutions in regions of high biological diversity in tropical forests.

The program will focus on the training of field workers in conservation, park managers, officials concerned with energy, infrastructure services and natural resources, and environmental policy makers and community leaders.

Short courses, workshops and field trips will take place at the program's principal sites in Panama City and Singapore, where Yale and the Smithsonian already work together, as well as at field sites in South and Southeast Asian and Central and South American regions.

"With the support of the Rausing Charitable Gift Fund, we will be able, for the first time, to develop and offer a systematic, integrated program of training and education in the tropics, building on our existing relations with the Smithsonian Institution and forging new relationships within each region," said Gus Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Based in London, the Lisbet Rausing Charitable Fund supports activities of high scholarly, cultural or social worth. The fund's principal trustees are Lisbet Rausing, a historian and a research fellow of Imperial College in London, and Peter Baldwin, a professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"Conservation is an urgent need, and it is of the greatest importance to support the people directly involved in protecting threatened environments," said Rausing and Baldwin. "Yale is to be congratulated on producing this program."


The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies is a graduate and professional school that provides teaching, research and outreach in broad areas of environmental policy, science and management to some 200 candidates for master's degrees and 75 doctoral students.

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