Cauê Carrilho

“I believe forest researchers have two special missions: to reveal forest benefits that are invisible to the main public and to help design strategies to conserve forests and to improve local benefits.”


Cauê Carrilho’s interest in environmental issues started in his teens, when he decided to pursue a career in environmental management. Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, he obtained his Master’s degree at the University of São Paulo, where he is now pursuing a PhD. Cauê found his passion for forest research during his undergraduate work, while doing research on quilombola communities’ livelihoods in Atlantic forest areas in southeastern Brazil. After managing urban parks in Brazil’s largest metropolis, he researched economic and sociocultural valuation of ecosystem services for his M.A. Now, as part of CIFOR’s GCS REDD+ project, he is assessing the environmental and social impacts of a subnational REDD+ initiative in the Brazilian Amazon for his PhD thesis.


Cauê is investigating if a subnational REDD+ initiative in the Brazilian Amazon that combined several interventions to reduce smallholders’ deforestation rates has promoted permanent win-win outcomes, whether on the reduction of deforestation or on the improvement of local people’s wellbeing. In addition, he aims to investigate which REDD+ interventions translate into better outcomes over time. His results show the initiative substantially reduced deforestation and positively impacted people’s well-being during implementation. However, these win-win outcomes were not sustained after the initiative ended. Deforestation increased again, and it seems that well-being was negatively impacted after the interventions of the REDD+ initiative were suspended.

Cauê argues that the Brazilian initiative had the potential to promote permanent land uses changes as one of its interventions was the promotion of low-impact economic activities (e.g., agroforestry) alternative to business-as-usual (e.g., slash-and-burn agriculture). However, he suspects that the initiative did not have enough time to fully promote new activities since its proponent had the refinancing request denied by the financier. Consequently, it is likely that business-as-usual activities returned after the initiative’s suspension, thus increasing deforestation.

Cauê is now investigating whether the targeted smallholders who did adopt low-impact economic activities had better long-term win-win outcomes than the ones who did otherwise. If true, it may indicate that the promotion of low-impact economic activities is actually a good approach for REDD+ to promote longstanding win-win outcomes. In this case, strategies to expand the adoption of alternative activities might improve REDD+ outcomes over time.

Cauê Carrilho poses at a smallholder property in Terra Rica village, in Pará state in northern Brazil.
Cauê Carrilho poses at a smallholder property in Terra Rica village, in Pará state in northern Brazil.