Cara has worked in South America for 15 years, collaborating closely with community forest managers and local NGO and government representatives to develop sustainable forest management strategies. She first pursued this interest as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1998-2002, where she worked with rural communities in Paraguay to improve soil conservation and reforestation efforts. Her master’s and doctoral research projects were conducted in the Brazilian state of Acre, where land conversion has increased considerably in the last decade and where community forest management is actively promoted by government and NGO interests. During that time, she investigated the ecological impacts of timber harvesting on bamboo-dominated forest stands, including forest restoration through post-harvest silvicultural techniques.
Photo provided by CIFOR
Subsequent to her research in Acre, she began working with the Center for International Forestry Research to investigate the optimization of timber and non-timber forest product harvesting in Madre de Dios, Peru. In addition to her ongoing projects in the Southwestern Amazon region, she has begun developing projects in South Florida, where she is focusing on ecosystem services in urban agroforestry systems as well as recovery of native ecosystems post-disturbance.