May 2018: X-raying coral reefs and rainforests from the sky (Palo Alto)


Join us on May 24 from 6:30-8:30 pm for a Mongabay / Bay Area Tropical Forest Network (BATFN) event held at the Patagonia store in Palo Alto.

The event will feature a conversation with Robin Martin and Greg Asner about cutting-edge conservation technology.

Robin Martin and Greg Asner have pioneered the use of advanced LiDAR and spectrometer sensors to study tropical forest ecosystems, revealing information about biodiversity, habitat function and health, and ecosystem services. Their work has been widely profiled by the likes of Science Magazine, National Geographic, and hundreds of other outlets. They’ve now turned their system to coral reefs, which may support the development of the first comprehensive global reef monitoring system in an era when the world’s corals are deeply threatened by rising temperatures, growing carbon emissions, and unsustainable fishing and extraction. Rhett Butler, founder of conservation news web site, will talk with Robin and Greg about how technology can help protect an conserve these critical ecosystems.

Admission is free and open to all, with refreshments (including wine and beer) courtesy of Mongabay and the Bay Area Tropical Forest Network (BATFN).

RSVP here (Space is limited)

May 24 from 6:30-8:30 pm

Patagonia Palo Alto store
525 Alma St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Video footage of the event


Mar 2017: Why Forests? Why Now? (San Francisco) – REDUX

The Center for Global Development, together with The Nature Conservancy California Chapter and the University of California Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), is hosting two upcoming events in the Bay Area to launch the book Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change. The events feature Dr. Jonah Busch, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, who co-authored the book with Frances Seymour.

Monday, March 6th
5:30 – 7:30 pm
The Nature Conservancy California Chapter
201 Mission Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA
Please RSVP to

Thursday, March 9th
4:30 – 6:30 pm
Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA)
Giannini Hall 248
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

From the authors:

    Tropical forests are an undervalued asset in meeting the greatest global challenges of our time—averting climate change and promoting sustainable development. Despite their importance, tropical forests and their ecosystems are being destroyed at a high and even increasing rate in most forest-rich countries. The good news is that the science, economics, and politics are aligned to support a major international effort to reverse tropical deforestation.
    Why Forests? Why Now? synthesizes the latest research on the importance of tropical forests in a way that is accessible to anyone interested in climate change and development and to readers already familiar with the problem of deforestation. It makes the case to decision-makers in rich countries that rewarding developing countries for protecting their forests is urgent, affordable, and achievable.

“Why Forests? Why Now? should be mandatory reading for people who already care deeply about tropical forests, as well as for those who remain not yet convinced.”
—Alec Baldwin, Actor and international advocate for forests and indigenous peoples

“Seymour and Busch highlight an important achievement of global climate negotiations—agreement on cooperation to reduce tropical deforestation—and suggest an effective path for the realization of this goal.”
—Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Light refreshments will be served

Feb 2017: Why Forests? Why Now? (Los Altos) – special event


On February 15th 2017 from 4-6 pm, the Packard Foundation is hosting a book launch event celebrating the publication of:

Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change by Frances Seymour and Jonah Busch

This comprehensive synthesis of the latest research makes the case that tropical forests are essential for both climate stability and sustainable development. Why Forests? Why Now? covers every aspect of forest conservation and finance to underscore the urgency, affordability, and feasibility of scaling up funding for reducing deforestation, particularly through performance-based approaches.

Opening Remarks:
Walt Reid, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

– Chris Elliott, Climate and Land Use Alliance (moderator)
– Frances Seymour, Center for Global Development
– Dan Nepstad, Earth Innovation Institute
– Donna Lee, Climate Change and Land Use Policy Consultant

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
343 Second St. Los Altos, CA 94022

Despite their importance, tropical forests and their ecosystems are being destroyed at a high, increasing rate in most forest-rich countries. The good news is that the science, economics, and politics are aligned to support a framework for international cooperation to reverse tropical deforestation. Now is the time for countries to increase investment in protecting tropical forests.

Light refreshments will be served.

To attend please RSVP here

Nov 2016 BATFN: Building an inclusive low-carbon economy in Acre, Brazil (Berkeley)


Join us on October 26 from 7-8:30 pm for an event co-hosted by the Bay Area Tropical Forest Network (BATFN), Earth Innovation Institute, Forest Trends, and the UC Berkeley Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory and featuring Tião Viana, the governor of Brazil’s state of Acre.

Acre, Brazil has one of the most advanced state-wide systems for promoting sustainable development in the tropics. During the last year, when deforestation rates across the Brazilian Amazon increased 24%, Acre’s deforestation declined, falling to 44% of its ten-year average. Acre is leading the way on forest conservation while simultaneously driving economic growth and ensuring inclusion for its people. This event features the premier of The Story of SISA—a short film examining the powerful partnership between the state of Acre and the indigenous and traditional peoples working to keep its forests standing while improving livelihoods.


6:45 Doors open
7:00 Welcome by Rhett Butler, Mongabay and the Bay Area Tropical Forests Network
7:05 Introduction to the Low Carbon Economy by Dan Kammen, UC Berkeley, Founding Director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory
7:10 Introduction to Acre’s Grand Experiment by Daniel Nepstad, Executive Director, Earth Innovation Institute
7:15 Address by Tião Viana, Governor of Acre, Brazil
7:30 The Story of SISA
7:45 Panel discussion with representatives of Acre’s indigenous and business communities followed by audience questions
8:30 Closing Remarks by Rhett Butler

Please note, the structure of this event is more formal that the typical BATFN. The program will start promptly at 7 pm, so we recommend you arrive a few minutes early.

Admission is free and open to all.

WHEN: October 26, 2016 from 6:45 PM to 8:45 PM (PDT)

WHERE: Brower Center Goldman Theater. 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94705



May 2015 event – Forests lost and found (Palo Alto)


BATFN has been on hiatus the past few months, but we’re getting ready for some meetings in coming months. In the meantime, we’ll highlight a few events that may be of interest to members.

Forests lost and found: deforestation control and forest resurgence in Latin America – Susanna B. Hecht
Hosted by the Carnegie Institution for Science – Department of Global Ecology

    Latin American forests express complex trends and none are more startling than the decline of deforestation in Amazonia by some 80%, and forest recovery in many regions which, like El Salvador, were described as places where nature “had been extinguished.” This lecture explores the politics, political ecologies and policies to limit deforestation, and the complex dynamics of the forest transition ranging from remittances, urbanization and social movements and the complex ways in which these unfold in globalized landscapes.

    Dr. Susanna B. Hecht is professor in the Luskin School of Public Affairs and Institute of the Environment at UCLA. She is also Professor of Environmental History at the Graduate Institute for International Development in Geneva. Her work has focused on the political ecology of development in Amazonia and Central America as well as their environmental history. Her work engages the politics of development, indigenous knowledge, Agroecology systems, forest transitions, and social, ideological and historical structures of tropical sciences. The author of numerous articles, and many books and edited volumes (including the recent “Social Lives of Forests” her recent book, “The Scramble for the Amazon and the Lost Paradise of Euclides da Cunha” was the 2015 Winner of the Melville Prize for the best book in Latin American Environmental History, by the American Historical Association.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016.
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Turing Auditorium at Stanford University, CA

More information

June 2014 BATFN: Deodorant, Diet, Dollars (@Stanford)

Riau rainforest

The June 2014 BATFN will take place from 6pm-8:30pm Jun 19 at the Carnegie Institution complex (260 Panama St, Stanford, CA 94305). The event is open to the public.

We’re pleased to announce that Sharon Smith of the Union of Concerned Scientists will present “Deodorant, Diet, Dollars—Recent Successes in Reducing Deforestation”.

    Description: In the 1990s, deforestation was consuming 16 million hectares a year—an area about the size of the state of Georgia—and was responsible for about 17 percent of the global warming pollution that threatens the world with dangerous climate change. But today the pace of deforestation is down; effective programs and policies—driven by individuals, communities, national governments and the private sector—have contributed to positive impacts for forest conservation, socioeconomic development and land-use changes. Sharon Smith, campaign manager of the Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative at UCS, and Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at UCS, will discuss the organization’s work—and biggest recent tropical forest victories–centered on commodity markets and international finance for tropical forest conservation.

If you plan to join us, please RSVP via this form or the Facebook event page.

We hope to see you there!

May 2014 BATFN: Palm Oil’s Impact on Indonesian Communities

The next BATFN will take place May 1, 2014 at 6pm at the RAN office, 425 Bush Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA (nearest BART stop Montgomery). The event is open to the public.

We’re pleased to announce that Ratri Kusumohartono from Sawit Watch will be presenting:

    Ratri Kusumohartono who works for Sawit Watch, one of Indonesia’s leading palm oil advocacy groups, will be discussing Sawit Watch’s work with local communities in Indonesia who are resisting or who have lost their forest and livelihoods due to large-scale oil palm expansion. She will also highlight some recent issues in Indonesia’s palm oil industry, including the latest fires in Riau, the forest moratorium and food security, and labor conditions on palm oil plantations.

    Sawit Watch was founded in 1998 and since then, has built a network of over 130 individual members and local contacts working with dozens of local communities in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, Papua and small islands. Sawit Watch’s beneficiaries are local communities, indigenous people, oil palm smallholders and labors. Sawit Watch’s first mandate is based on the call to support local communities who are fighting or have lost their forest and livelihoods because of large-scale oil palm expansion.

    As palm oil industry is growing, negative impacts due to its existence are expanding. Beside communities’ loss of lands and livelihoods, smallholders and laborers are also exploited by large scale plantations. In order to address this, Sawit Watch is currently also working and supporting smallholders and laborers to strengthen their positions./ul>

    Doors open at 6pm. The presentation will take place around 7pm.

    If you are interested in attending the event, it would be helpful if you RSVP via the Facebook event page. The event is open to everyone so feel free to forward to your friends.

February 2014 BATFN: Conflict and conservation in the Congo (@Berkeley)

Greetings! The Bay Area Tropical Forest Network (BATFN) is back!

BATFN will take place Thursday, Feb 27, 2013 at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley (2607 Hearst Ave, Berkeley, CA).

We’re pleased to announce that Van Butsic will give a brief talk about the impact of conflict on forest loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

    Many tropical countries have experienced violent conflict in recent decades, which may pose an additional, yet poorly understood threat for forests. Conflict may decrease or increase deforestation depending on the relationship between conflict and other causes of land use change, such as mining expansion or protected area establishment. Here we examine the impact of conflict on forest loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Using a panel instrumental variables approach we find that: i) conflict increases forest cover loss, ii) mining concessions increase forest cover loss, but in times of conflict this impact is lessened, and iii) protected areas reduce forest cover loss, even if conflict is present. Our results thus suggest that policy interventions designed to reduce violent conflict may have the co-benefit of reducing deforestation and that protected areas can be effective even in times of war.

Doors open at 6pm for networking/conversation and Butsic’s talk will likely begin around 7 pm, followed by discussion. We’ll provide some snacks and drinks, but any food, drink, or other contributions would be appreciated.

If you are interested in attending the event, it would be helpful if you RSVP via this form. The event is open to everyone so feel free to forward to your friends.

We hope you can make it.

November 2013 BATFN: Exploring Solutions to Deforestation (@The Rainbow Warrior)

The final BATFN of 2013 took place Sunday, November 17 from 6-8 pm on board Greenpeace’s ship, The Rainbow Warrior, which was docked at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero near the Exploratorium.

The theme for the event was “An Evening Exploring Solutions to Deforestation” and involved a panel of speakers who talked about one solution that has worked in the past to reduce deforestation.

    The structure for the night is that after 45 minutes of food/drink/networking, the panel will commence. Each speaker will get 5-7 minutes to do a quick overview of their solution to deforestation (and 2 minutes to answer questions), and then at the end the floor will be opened up for discussion.

Here is video from the speakers’ portion of the event.

BATFN Meeting: Solutions to Deforestation from Paul Stoutenburgh on Vimeo.