Rachel Carmenta

University of East Anglia




Dr Rachel Carmenta is Tyndall Centre Lecturer in Climate Change and International Development, a position held between the Tyndall Centre and the School of International Development. Rachel co-leads the Overcoming Poverty with Climate Actions research area within the Tyndall Centre and contributes to post-graduate and undergraduate teaching within the School of International Development. She is particularly interested in the design, performance and social equity of environmental governance in geographies of risk in the Brazilian Amazon and Indonesian peatland frontiers.



Dr Carmenta is an environmental social scientist specialising in interdisciplinary research at the intersection of environment and development, environmental risk and the relationship between place and well-being. She is particularly interested in the design, performance and social equity of environmental governance. Her work engages with an interdisciplinary set of collaborators, scales of analysis and analytical lenses in order explore what strategies perform better to reconcile the imperatives of food production, forest protection and human wellbeing in dynamic forest agriculture landscapes of the global South. In these contested frontiers, uncontrolled, recurrent and catastrophic wildfires have become a “new normal” in the context of the Anthropocene. A central strand of Rachel's work centers on the tropical wildfire complex -a leading environmental challenge at the interface of social and natural systems. Her current research seeks to recognize the diverse interests, politics and burdens of land use change and wildfire, with a particular focus on expanding conventional impact metrics to capture the often invisible, place-based impacts of landscape flammability and conservation and development interventions on food security, health and locally defined human well-being. Rachel’s work is focused in Brazilian Amazon and Indonesian peatland frontiers and can be summarized along the following broad themes:  

  • Political ecology of agrarian and environmental change with a tropical fire focus  
  • Environmental justice and bio-cultural approaches to natural resource management  
  • Relationship between the environment, relational values and human-wellbeing
  • Conservation and development

Self-funded PhDs with shared interests are welcome to get in touch. Competitive studentships may be available.



Before joining the Tyndall Centre and School of International Development Studies at UEA, Rachel held a Frank Jackson Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge with Wolfson College, the Conservation Research Institute (UCCRI) and the Department of Geography, prior to which she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and based in Indonesia.


Research Areas

Overcoming poverty with climate actions.


Current projects

The “KaLi” (Kalimantan Lestari – Sustainable Kalimantan) project aims to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of Indonesian peat fires, drivers and impacts in order to synthesize findings and co-create with local partners and communities, solutions that more equitably reduce fire risk and vulnerabilities.  KaLi is a four year project funded by the GCRF under the multi-hazards call. A key focus of the work being led by UEA aims to expand impact metrics to bring a better understanding of the multi-dimensional burden of landscape flammability for local communities, specifically impacts on human well-being and relational values.

Flame-Free: Solutions to reduce the socio-environmental impacts of fire in Amazonian Forests under Sustainable Use funded by CNPq Brazil (Brazilian Research Council) aims to understand the relationships between small scale agricultural fire management practices, forest fires, and their social-ecological consequences in two sustainable use reserves of the Brazilian Amazon where landscape flammability and the risk of escaped fire has increased in recent years. The intention is to inform integrated fire management within these landscapes that builds on diverse knowledges and strengthens response capacity.

Evaluating the impact of REDD+ project activities on rates of habitat conversion and local livelihoods in the Gola Forest National Park is funded by the GCRF. This project involves an evaluation of a long standing REDD+ intervention using a before, after, control and intervention (BACI) approach. A specific focus of this project has been to expand the initial impact metrics to incorporate a perception-based assessment to understand impacts on locally defined human well-being.



Phelps, J., Zabala, A., Daeli, W, Carmenta, R. (2021) Expert and resource users split over solutions to peatland fires. World Dev. Volume 146,  105594 

Reed, J., Kusters, K., Barlow, J., Balinga, M., Borah, J. R., Carmenta, R., ... & Sunderland, T. (2021). Re-integrating ecology into integrated landscape approaches. Landscape Ecology, 1-13.

Carmenta, R., Cammelli, F., Dressler, W., Verbicaro, C., & Zähringer, J. (2021). Between a rock and a hard place: The burdens of uncontrolled fire for smallholders across the tropicsWorld Development145, 105521.

Daeli, W., Carmenta, R., Monroe, M. C., & Adams, A. E. (2021). Where Policy and Culture Collide: Perceptions and Responses of Swidden Farmers to the Burn Ban in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Human Ecology49(2), 159-170.

Reed, J., Oldekop, J., Barlow, J., Carmenta, R., Geldmann, J., Ickowitz, A., Narulita, S., Ajijiur Rahman, S., van Vianen, J., Yanou, M., Sunderland, T. (2020). The extent and distribution of joint conservation - development funding in the tropics. One Earth

Carmenta, R., Zabala, A., Trihadmojo, B., Gaveau, D., Salim, M. A., & Phelps, J. (2020). Evaluating bundles of interventions to prevent peat-fires in Indonesia. Global Environmental Change, 102154. 

Zafra-Calvo, N; Balvanera, P; Pascual, U; Merçon, J; Martin-Lopez, B; van Noordwijk, M; Mwampamba, T; Lele, S; Ifejika Speranza, C; Arias-Arevalo, P; Diego, C; Caceres, D; O`Farrell, P; Subramanian, Suneetha M; Soubadra, Di; Krishnan, S; Carmenta, R; Guibrunet, L; Elsin, Y K; Moersberger, H; Cariño, J; Diaz, S. (2020) Plural valuation of nature for equity and sustainability: Insights from the Global South. Global Environmental Change.

Carmenta, R; Carmona-Estrada, N, Coomes, D. A.,  DeClerk, F., Hart, A., Harvey, C., Milder, J., Reed, J and Vira, B. (2020) Defining and evaluating integrated landscape approaches. One Earth. 2(2), 174-187.

Dressler, W. H., Smith, W., Kull, C. A., Carmenta, R., & Pulhin, J. M. (2020). Recalibrating burdens of blame: Anti-swidden politics and green governance in the Philippine Uplands. Geoforum

Jefferson, U., Carmenta, R., Daeli, W., & Phelps, J. (2020). Characterising policy responses to complex socio-ecological problems: 60 fire management interventions in Indonesian peatlands. Global Environmental Change, 60, 102027. 

Barlow, J., Berenguer, E., Carmenta, R., & França, F. (2019) Clarifying Amazonia's burning crisis. Global Change Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14872

Mansourian, S; Parrotta, J; Balaji, P; Belwood-Howard, I;  Bhasme, S; Bixler, R. P; Boedhihartono, A, K; Carmenta, R; Jedd, J; de Jong, W; Lake, F. K;  Latawiec, A; Lippe, M; Rai, N. D; Sayer, J; Van Dexter, K; Vira, B; Visseren-Hamakers, I; Wyborn, CYang, A. (2019) Putting the Pieces Together: Integration for Forest Landscape Restoration Implementation. Land Degradation and Development. https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.3448

Reed, J., Van Vianen, J., Carmenta, R., Barlow, J., & Sunderland, T. (2019) Engaging multiple stakeholders to reconcile climate, conservation and development objectives in tropical landscapes. Biological Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108229

Maharani, C. D., Moeliono, M., Wong, G. Y., Brockhaus, M., Carmenta, R., & Kallio, M. (2018). Development and equity: A gendered inquiry in a swidden landscape. Forest Policy and Economics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2018.11.002

Carmenta, R., Steward, A., Coudel, E. (2018) Where swidden and conservation collide: Does criminalizing fire hinder conservation efforts in swidden landscapes of the Brazilian Amazon? The Geographical Journal. https://doi.org/10.1111/geoj.12255

Carmenta, R; Zabala, A., Daeli, W., Phelps, J. (2017) Perceptions across scales of governance of Indonesian peatland fires. Global Environmental Change. DOI:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2017.08.001

Gebara, M. F., May, P. H., Carmenta, R., Calixto, B.,Brockhaus, M., Gregorio, M. D. (2017). Framing REDD+ in the Brazilian national media: how discourses evolved amid global negotiation uncertainties. Climatic Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-017-1896-1. Selected for “Research Highlights” paper with Nature Climate Change

Wijedasa, L. S., Jauhiainen, J., Könönen, M., Lampela, M., Vasander, H., LeBlanc, M. C.,….Carmenta, R, … & Lupascu, M. (2016). Denial of long-term issues with agriculture on tropical peatlands will have devastating consequences. Global Change Biology. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13516

Gaveau, D; Pirard, R, Salim, M; Prayoto, T, Yaen, H; Parks, S; Carmenta, R., (2016). Overlapping land claims limit the use of satellites to monitor No-Deforestation commitments and No-Burning compliance. Conservation Letters. DOI: 10.1111/conl.12256

Carmenta, R; Blackburn, A; Davies, G; de Sassi, C; Lima, A; Parry, L; Tych, W; Barlow, J. (2016). Does the Establishment of Sustainable Use Reserves Affect Fire Management in the Humid Tropics? PloS one 11.2: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149292

Babon, A; McIntyre, D; Gallemore, C; Carmenta, R; Di Gregorio, M; Brockhaus, M. (2014). Advocacy coalitions, REDD+, and forest governance in Papua New Guinea: How likely is transformational change? Ecology and Society. 19(3): 16.http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06486-190316

Pham, T; Di Gregorio, M; Carmenta, R; Brockhaus, M; Dung Le. (2014). The REDD+ Policy arena in Vietnam: participation of policy actors. Ecology and Society. 19(2): 22. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06389-190222           

Brockhaus, M; Di Gregorio, M; Carmenta, R. (2014). REDD+ policy networks: exploring actors and power structures in an emerging policy domain. Ecology and Society. 19(4): 29. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07098-190429

Carmenta, R; Vermeylen, S; Parry, L., Barlow. (2013). Shifting cultivation and fire policy: insights from the Brazilian Amazon. Human Ecology. 41(4), DOI: 10.1007/s10745-013-9600-1

Barlow, J; Parry, L; Toby A. Gardner, T.A; Ferreira, J; Aragão, L. E. O. C; Carmenta, R; Berenguer, E; Vieira, I.G;,  Souza, C.,Cochrane, M. A. (2012). The critical importance of considering fire in REDD+ programs. Biological Conservation, 03 (34): http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2012.03.034

Carmenta, R; Parry, L; Blackburn, A; Vermeylen, S., Barlow, J (2011). Understanding human-fire interactions in tropical forest regions: a case for interdisciplinary research across the natural and social sciences. Ecology and Society, 16 (1)

Shanley, P; da Serra Silva, M; Melo, T; Carmenta, R., Nasi, R. (2011). Conflict of use to multiple use: Forest management innovations by small holders in Amazonian logging frontiers. Forest Ecology and Management. 268. 70-80. DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2011.05.041

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