The Orinoquia region of Colombia contains the most extensive grasslands and wetlands in the world. From a biodiversity perspective, it is globally significant. The region will undergo dramatic change with a nationally driven development scheme aimed at improving local livelihoods and large-scale agricultural development simultaneously. The Plan Maestro de la Orinoquia (Orinoco Master Plan) is currently under development and is likely to influence all major development projects in the region.

The objective of my PhD is to assess the effects of expanding agricultural commodities and consequent land use change that are being derived through this national planning process with an emphasis on biodiversity and ecosystem services. I will use this information to identify strategies to reduce impacts on biodiversity in ways that minimize the impediment of development. I will do this via a number of case studies within the ZIDRES (Interest Zones of Rural, Economic and Social Development) areas, where large productive projects are being generated by the private sector with local communities and local governments. My research fits into a significant, and well-funded, collaborative project (Landscape planning in Orinoquia, see http://snappartnership.net/) between academics from UQ and elsewhere, international NGOs and the Colombian government that is underway.

Advisor:  Assoc Prof James Watson

Project members

Brooke WILLIAMS

PhD candidate