Keynote Presentations

Dr. Meredith Gore is a conservation social scientist. She advances understanding about the human dimensions of global environmental change such as biodiversity loss and climate change. The majority of her research uses risk concepts to explore human-environment interactions and all of her efforts are designed to build evidence for action. Dr. Gore brings an interdisciplinary perspective to a range of conservation issues such as wildlife trafficking, illegal fishing and illegal logging.

Dr. Gore is on the faculty of the Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her PhD in Natural Resource Policy and Management from Cornell University, MA in Environment and Resource Policy from George Washington University, and BA in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from Brandeis University. From 2006-2020, she was on the faculty at Michigan State University.

Dr. Gore is an American Geographical Society Council Member, a National Academies of Sciences Jefferson Science Fellow, US Department of State Embassy Science Fellow and Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leader.

Dr. Gore’s Presentation: Interdisciplinary mapping of harmful human-environment relationships and conservation crime

Conservation crime (e.g., wildlife trafficking; illegal logging, mining, fishing) is a transnational socio-environmental challenge globally distributed in scope, scale, and cultural impacts. Conservation crime can simultaneously serve as a vector for zoonotic disease and nonnative species invasion, endanger flora and fauna, undermine returns on sustainable development investment, associate with human rights violations, and support an exploited labor force. Scientific exploration of the causes and consequences of these harmful human-environmental relationships help support more effective decision-making, program evaluation, cross-sectoral partnerships, and funding prioritization. To this end, geographers regularly engage in interdisciplinary research and methods (i.e., different disciplines working together) to advance knowledge. Unfortunately, harmful-human environment relationships persist and by many measures, are getting worse. Multidisciplinary mapping of the spaces that do not fit any existing discipline may offer novel frameworks and methods to help break the logjam and help reduce nature crime This presentation will review 3 case studies of interdisciplinary mapping on illegal logging in Madagascar, wildlife trafficking at a global level, and wildlife poaching in Indonesia, highlighting how minoritized voices, diverse data streams, and fieldwork advance both new answers to existing questions and new questions for future research. Both impatient optimists and hesitant pessimists are invited to engage and discuss implications for geographical sciences.


The 2023 conference will be held virtually from August 16 -18, with pre-conference workshops on August 15.

Nature: From Loss to Sustainable Use

The loss of nature is ubiquitous around the globe–from habitat conversion to harvesting species through illegal or ill-managed activities. Damage inflicted on nature takes many forms. Forests are clearcut to make way for farms. Wildlife species are captured for a price or killed because they are perceived as a threat. Ultimately, the sustainability of landscapes and of human communities and cultures are threatened.

Activities damaging the content and processes of nature set off a complex web of effects in a landscape and around the world. Countless constituencies are affected (positively and negatively) by these activities from local communities, poachers, and farmers to politicians, law enforcement organizations and large industries. In addition, indigenous perspectives are needed to account for the impacts and to effectively design efforts to combat illegal actions and ensure culturally appropriate solutions.

Today geospatial data is being used in many ways to study illicit actions against nature, educate people locally and globally about the impacts, design solutions to prevent future illegal actions, and to promote sustainability and environmental justice.

Are you using geospatial tools to study illicit uses of nature or to create pathways to more sustainable management of natural areas and their many values? Please join our virtual conference and share your stories.

We invite you to attend our plenary sessions to learn what our two outstanding keynote speakers are doing to combat the illicit use of natural areas and their many values.

Dr. Carlos Klink is a native Brazilian and a professor of Ecology at the University of Brasilia - UnB. He holds B.Sc. in Biology (1981) and M.Sc. in Ecology (1986) from the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil, and M.A. (1989) and Ph.D. (1991) in Biology from Harvard University; Dr. Klink was also a visiting scholar at University of Maryland, College Park (2004-2005). He is currently the Chairman of the Dept. of Ecology at UnB.

From 2012 to 2015 Dr. Klink held the position of Brazil´s National Secretary for Climate Change and from January through May 2016, Deputy-Minister of the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment. Dr. Klink has worked for the International Finance Corporation, coordinating the Brazilian Amazon Initiative (2009-2012) and for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) as the Agriculture Team Leader for Brazil (2006-2008) where he coordinated the Conservancy’s strategies on agribusiness and conservation across ecosystems, working with corporations, financial institutions, trade forums, academia and NGOs. Dr. Klink has 37 years of experience working with land-use, climate change, and climate finance, working with corporations, financial institutions, trade forums, governments, academia and NGOs. Dr. Klink has served on the board of government institutions, private sector, NGOs, and international scientific committees. Dr. Klink has published 50+ peer-reviewed papers, 3 books, 100+ technical reports, 150+ technical presentations and conferences, having also worked as a consultant with the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility.

Dr. Klink’s Presentation: Current and feasible opportunities for reconciling conservation and agribusiness in the Brazilian Cerrado.

The abundant lands in the Cerrado savannas of Brazil and the combination of public policies, technological development, and investments, have transformed the nation into a global agricultural powerhouse. Today, Brazil ranks as one of the world’s leading agribusiness producers and exporters . From 1977 to 2019, agricultural production skyrocketed from 8 million to 130 million tons; national production will possibly reach 309 million tons this year. Yet to maintain Brazil´s global standing to meet the world´s food demand, reduce hunger, and rehabilitate land, a new and ambitious roadmap for production in the Cerrado is needed, one that is rooted also in environmental sustainability.

Cerrado deforestation decreased by over 60% from 2001 and 2018, but habitat conversion is again growing since 2019. Brazil has already proven that soy and beef production can continue to grow even when deforestation is controlled, if technology, policies, and science are correctly deployed. Brazil’s producers and business sectors need to join forces with national and international civil societies, nonprofit organizations, and governments to improve practices to supply the rising demand for soy, beef, timber, and bioenergy.

Key to reaching these objectives are well established public policies, mainly the Brazilian forest code and Brazil´s NDC to the Paris 2015 climate change agreement. The newly elected federal government has defined agriculture and climate change a high priority for public policies. Promoting better coordination of policies that simultaneously conserves ecosystems, promotes sustainable land use and climate change mitigation is therefore a great opportunity for Cerrado conservation.