Paula completed her Master’s degree in organic agriculture at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, whilst simultaneously working at the Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development.

MSc in Organic Agriculture

Current position: Head Veterinary Technician at the Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development, Brazil

Research focus: agroecology, agroecosystems, animal production, sustainable management in the Amazon region

Paula analysed native plants used as food for cattle and buffalo, applying participatory methods with local communities in a Protected Area in the Amazon region.

She featured plants with characteristics that act as a stable forage resource, reducing the need to use exotic plants in pastures. She devised an innovative questionnaire procedure to survey the experiences from local cattle ranchers associating this knowledge with literal findings, revealing unique insights into the management of natural resources in pastures.

CV as submitted for the Green Talents award (2015):

Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro / Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development, Brazil

Research focus: studying the agroecosystem to develop more sustainable management methods for tropical pastures

As a veterinarian, Paula began working at the Mamirauá Institute doing field work in the Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve. While working in the reserve, her interests turned to agricultural sustainability. Paula is now pursuing a Master's degree and her thesis tackles key questions in Agroecology.

For Paula de Carvalho Machado Araujo, sustainability can often be a utopian concept, but one that should, nonetheless, always be pursued. A firm believer in learning from nature, Paula’s research incorporates detailed scientific studies with observations of both natural interactions that occur in the agroecosystems and the experiences of local smallholder Amazonian cattle ranchers. By expanding her research outside a scientific bubble, and by communicating with the existing communities in an agricultural region of the Amazon, Paula gains crucial insights into her research topic. “Understanding the logic of communities and the factors that interfere in decision-making is critical to the success of management practices”, she says. The research she is undertaking includes a questionnaire for local cattle ranchers, which was a challenge to undertake because of the very particular reality in the reserve. As such, Paula, together with her group, developed innovative procedures to make sure her questionnaires would produce as accurate results as possible.

The holistic approach that Paula has taken to her research into agroecosystems has offered her the ability to integrate local knowledge into a scientific project. She is committed to a career in sustainable animal rearing and pasture management, developing methods that have low environmental impact.

While this research project is very specific to the Brazilian Amazon, Paula believes that her scientific approach can be implemented around the world. As a part of agriculture, cattle rearing, just like any human activity, can be an extreme burden on natural resources. Projects such as Paula’s can go a long way to relieving nature of this burden.

The jury complimented Paula’s passion for developing sustainable systems and the innovative methods she uses to obtain the best results.