September 14, 2016 — The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Geography Department Receives NSF Grant

Robert Walker of the Center for Latin American Studies and international team receive award to study effects of neoliberal policy on Mexican farming practices and their impact on deforestation.

UF’s Department of Geography and Center for Latin American Studies have received a major award from the National Science Foundation to study shifting agricultural practices in a globalized Mexico and their impact on deforestation. The $375,000 award from the Geography and Spatial Sciences program will fund a project titled “International Trade Agreements, Globalization, Land Change, and Agricultural Food Networks.”

The research, to be conducted in Mexico, investigates links between spatial shifts in that country’s forest biomes and neoliberal reforms associated with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT; precursor to the World Trade Organization) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The project will be led by Dr. Robert Walker, of the UF Center for Latin American Studies and Geography, in collaboration with Co-PI Yankuic Galvan-Miyoshi, a postdoctoral researcher at UF. Economic geographer Dr. Barney Warf, from the University of Kansas, will also participate.

The research involves a large-scale, three-year survey of Mexican feedlots to ascertain the spatial reconfiguration of maize and beef commodity chains stemming from shifts in trade policy and globalization. It will then determine the extent to which changing commodity chains explain regional patterns of forest loss and regeneration across Mexico as a whole.

The project involves an international team of researchers, including agronomist Dr. Ema Maldonado from Universidade Autonoma de Chapingo (Estado de Mexico), soil scientist Dr. Marta Astier from Universidade Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), and environmental scientist Dr. Omar Masera, who directs UNAM’s Bioenergy Laboratory.