Liz Ota - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Liz Ota

Liz Ota is a PhD student with the Tropical Forests and People Research Centre researching the environmental and socioeconomic impacts and benefits of small-scale tropical reforestation in the Philippines. She is using the Philippine’s Rainforestation Farming Program in Leyte in her research as a longitudinal case study of the ways in which reforestation impacts on the livelihoods of local communities and smallholders and vice-versa. The Rainforestation Farming Program started in the 90s and encouraged 28 smallholders and communities to implement pilot agroforestry sites for environmental and socioeconomic benefits.

“What I have found so far is very exciting. Smallholders and communities are satisfied with the program and are experiencing unexpected benefits from the reforestation activities. The products and services provided by the reforestation plantations has helped increase their socioeconomic resilience to natural disasters, such as the devastating Typhoon Yolanda of 2013. Other findings show how the availability and access to financial, social, physical, natural and human capital determines the chances of success of a new forestry activity with smallholders.”


Liz considers the opportunity to evaluate the financial and socioeconomic outcomes of a program that started more than 30 years ago as unique. Much of the research on smallholder reforestation evaluates the early stages of the activity, and long-term impacts are often neglected. She feels fortunate to be able to build on her Brazilian-based forestry research and work with researchers and stakeholders internationally.

“It is exciting to be able to contribute to the work that is being carried out by several researchers, local communities, policy makers and reforestation practitioners around the globe with the aim at finding a balanced win-win situation in which people living in the tropics can achieve satisfactory levels of well-being while allowing for forest integrity and biodiversity conservation. Besides that, as a Brazilian Forester, the opportunity to research, interact and learn from a different culture and environment in the Philippines has been fantastic!


Small-scale tropical reforestation affects and is affected by the livelihoods of local people. Because much of the degraded and denuded land in the tropics is under smallholder management, making reforestation suitable and profitable for poor communities is crucial.

“By identifying the factors that led to successful reforestation plantations and shortcomings in ineffective cases, I aim to provide information for policy and practice to improve reforestation attractiveness and suitability to smallholders and the environmental and socioeconomic outcomes of tropical reforestation.”