HRF welcomes new Director of Sustainable Development
]HRF is pleased to announce that Maureen A. DeCoursey, MFSc has
joined the staff as Director of Sustainable Development. DeCoursey
is a forester and ethnobotanist with a wealth of international
and domestic experience in forest management and enterprise development,
biodiversity conservation, and community organizing. Her addition
to HRF's Division of Sustainable Development will enable the foundation
to take a more integrated and field-tested approach to development
projects and to work more closely with conservation and land management
agencies, such as the World Wildlife Fund and the US Forest Service.
DeCoursey has a Master's degree in Forest Science from Yale University
and has worked on conservation and development projects in more
than 15 countries around the world, from the mountains of Nepal
to the jungles of the Amazon. Her 17 years of experience encompass
projects that run the gamut from forest-based enterprise development
in the Balkans to research on the 2,000 year-old Himalayan medicinal
plant trade. She takes a practical approach to bridging the gaps
between policy, science, and field projects. "I'm very applied
and results-oriented," she explains. "I like to keep
abreast of academic theories on rural development and vegetation
ecology, but reality often dictates a different course of action."
DeCoursey emphasizes community participation in all aspects of
her work. Her approach emphasizes stakeholder involvement in researching,
planning, executing, monitoring, and evaluating project activities.
"This gives people a sense of ownership in the project, builds
local capacity, and increases the likelihood that the project
will succeed, " she asserts. In return for their participation,
forest users are provided with secure access to the resources
on which they depend and a greater share of the benefits from
sustainable commercial use.
"One of my main goals at HRF is to work closely with industry
buyers to position producers of sustainably harvested raw materials
at the forefront of the marketplace," said DeCoursey. "The
overall objective is to help the 'good guys' overtake the 'bad
guys'-those who do not employ socially and environmentally responsible
business practices. Unfortunately, this group currently dominates
the raw materials supply in many developing countries."
Historically, DeCoursey says, there has been an emphasis on technology
to solve conservation and development problems "That's actually
the easy part," she commented. "But technology won't
solve the problems unless one takes into account the larger forces
at play. Who has the power in the community? How much freedom
do the people have to carry out the recommendations you make?
Unless you acknowledge the social, environmental, and political
context in which you are working, your recommendations may be