Integrated Development and Conservation projects through the lens of institutional telecoupling

PhD fellow: Louise Marie Busck Lumholt

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

About me

I come from Copenhagen in Denmark where I just recently finished my Master’s degree in agricultural development with primary focus on forest management and participatory approaches to natural resource governance. I spent six months in Arabuko-Sokoke forest in Coastal Kenya, collaborating with local NGOs and local authorities on an investigation of impacts from Participatory Forest Management in the area. I have been working for various environmental NGOs as well as doing municipal work with community involvement in urban planning.
My combined profile mirrors my interest in interdisciplinary research which I find essential to develop further to understand and solve the crosscutting challenges characterizing natural resource governance. I was determined to do my PhD through COUPLED because I believe that the concepts and principles communicated in the program offer an enabling research environment to collectively find ways to meet these challenges. COUPLED corresponds directly to my aspiration to participate in a research project that considers the interconnected nature of sustainability while contributing to strengthening collaboration and bridge building between the scientific environment and private and public organisations.
My PhD will focus on forestry projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) with an investigation of environmental impacts, social outcomes, and discursive and financial flows that influence project development. I will do so from an integrated approach, using qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate and analyse land use and land-use changes, do estimations of income/knowledge/capital related to the forest, and identify the links between policy decisions and project outcome.

My research will help fill out the knowledge gap about the dynamics between impacts associated with market-based approaches to conservation. I will prioritize continuous communication of the results to guide current and future project development in the forest sector.


From the 1980s and onwards, different factors have contributed to putting deforestation on an international political agenda. The Brundtland report in 1987 officially associated deforestation with ethics by using the term ‘’sustainable development’’ as a way of evolving without compromising the living standards for future generations. The report links environmental, social and economic objectives, a trinity reestablished during the United Nations Conference for Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio 1992. Alongside these negotiations, a broad range and variety of international non-governmental organizations have put sustainable development on their official agenda by financing and running sustainable development projects. In the case of forests, management has become a matter of  complex collaboration between local, national and international stakeholders. Direct and indirect influence from distant stakeholders on local forest management is yet to be fully understood. Against this background, the research will explore institutional telecouplings in the forestry sector through a case study of a World Bank-led Forest and Community project in Salta, Argentina.

The main areas of investigation are:

  1. how the theory of telecoupling and elements of institutional analysis can be integrated to shed new light on the nature of development projects,
  2. how financial and discursive flows between institutions influence project development and management approaches, and
  3.  how this affects local forest use and conservation priorities.

The motivation behind this research is to uncover new aspects of the reasons behind success and failure of development projects by using the lens of telecoupling and institutional analysis to capture more intangible elements of uncertainty and informal relationships.

Principal Supervisor: Esteve Corbera (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, ICTA – Institut de Ciènca i Tecnologia Ambientals)


Louise Marie Busck Lumholt

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, ICTA – Institut de Ciènca i Tecnologia Ambientals

 UAB Campus, 08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanoyla del Vallès), Spain