September 28, 2020

Meet Zoe Barr: the newest addition to the EcoAgriculture Partner´s team

Manon KoningsteinEcoAgriculture Partners Zoe BarrEcoAgriculture Partners

Zoe Barr is EcoAgriculture’s newest Project Intern. With a degree from Cornell University and a special interest in integrating agroforestry into conservation incentivization schemes such as REDD+ and other green initiatives, she will be a real added value to the team. She hopes to be devoting the next couple of years comparing the monetary values of ecosystem services provided by agroforestry systems with typical reforestation projects in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of how to best restore degraded environments based on a number of external factors. 

Time to learn more about Zoe:

EcoAg: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how your background led you to work with EcoAgriculture Partners?

Zoe: Growing up about an hour outside of Chicago, I always knew that I wanted to go into some field of environmental studies, but I never had an idea of what exactly I wanted to devote my career to. Studying at Cornell University and having the opportunity to travel made it clear to me that my primary interests lie in the integration of sustainable agricultural methods into environmental conservation and restoration.

In the past, I have spent a good amount of time studying the capacity to integrate agroforestry into conservation incentivization schemes such as REDD+ and other green initiatives. I traveled to Ecuador to assist in conducting field research to have a greater understanding of the practices that were being used in cacao agroforestry to better adapt to climate change, and how government-initiated programs impacted the utilization of sustainable intensification methods in agriculture in the Amazon basin.

Earlier this year, I spent time in southern India working with the Keystone Foundation and Conservation International to evaluate the efficacy of using organic agriculture as a means to reduce pressures on non-timber forest products in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, I had to return to the United States prematurely, but the time I was able to spend in India gave me a much better perspective on how to better integrate climate-smart agriculture into a number of socio-politically nuanced environments. After these experiences, I have developed a deep interest in the employment of agroforestry systems to reduce the leakage effects and socioeconomic detriments that are commonly associated with forest carbon drawdown initiatives.

Specifically, I am aiming to devote the next few years of my career to compare the monetary values of ecosystem services provided by agroforestry systems compared to typical reforestation projects in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of how to best restore degraded environments based on a number of external factors. 

Up until I was aware of EcoAgriculture Partners’ work, I did not think there was an organization out there that aligned so closely with my specific interests. What really strikes me about EcoAg is their devotion to consolidating the multitude of tools available to farmers and practitioners into one platform to make tools to implement integrated landscape management and climate-smart agriculture more accessible. The 1000 Landscapes for I Billion People initiative in my eyes is groundbreaking, as no organization that I’m aware of has ever worked so vigorously on upscaling and capacity building. At this point, one of the most important things to be doing in the world of sustainable development is to be facilitating collaboration between a number of stakeholders to ensure long-term access to finance, partnerships, and influence on policy to further expand the practice of ILM.

Preparing vegetables from the cropping systems for a local wedding in Sathyamangalam, India.

EcoAg: What are some of the reasons you’re excited to work with EcoAgriculture?

Zoe: I am particularly excited to be working alongside a number of individuals who are prominent leaders in the field of integrated landscape management and that have devoted their lives to developing holistic solutions to a number of social and environmental issues to create a world of sustainable landscapes to support both people and the planet. Having the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on a number of lives and landscapes through this work is the best thing that I could possibly be devoting my time to, and I’m more than thrilled to be beginning my professional career in this field with EcoAgriculture Partners.

Hiking to fincas agroforestales in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

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