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Winner of the GAIA Masters Student Paper Award 2017

Charlotte Kottusch receives the GAIA Masters Student Paper Award 2017 for her entry:

The Socio-Ecological Impacts of Palm Oil Production in Rural Communities. A Study of Material Flows in the Micro-Region Tomé-Açu in Pará, Brazil.

We congratulate Charlotte Kottusch on this impressive achievement.

In addition to a certificate and a year’s subscription to GAIA, Charlotte Kottusch will be awarded a 1,500 EUR cash prize, donated by the Selbach Environmental Foundation.

In her study, Charlotte Kottusch considers issues of sustainability in a ‘hotspot’ of palm oil production in Brazil. The expansion of palm oil production in Brazil began at a time when the detrimental social and environmental impacts of the associated plantation agriculture were widely recognized. In 2010, president Lula da Silva initiated a program intended to foster socially and environmentally sustainable production of palm oil. Kottuschs study examines the socio-ecological impacts of palm oil expansion in the Brazilian state of Pará where approximately 90 % of Brazilian palm oil was produced in 2014. She combines data-driven analysis (of regional material flows and land use data) with qualitative field research in the micro-region of Tomé-Açu in Pará. She finds that the expanding palm oil production is associated with fundamental changes in land use patterns and is mutually linked to the economic as well as the biophysical basis of livelihoods in the rural communities.

Charlotte Kottusch was born 1989 in Münster, Germany. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Development Studies from the University of Vienna and her Master’s degree in Social Ecology from Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt-Wien-Graz, Institute for Social Ecology (SEC) Vienna.

Shortlist:
Maria Juschten, Heidrun Leonhardt (WU Vienna University of Economics and Business): Questioning the Status Quo: How Non-Growing Companies Succeed in a Growth-Driven Economy
Anna Meissner (University of Saskatchewan). Towards Improved Water Management. Using a Model of River Geomorphology as a Tool for Sustainable Community Based Monitoring.