Stephen Clare, M.Sc.

Bachelor of Arts & Science (Honours), McMaster University (2016); MSc. Renewable Resources, McGill University (2018).


Interests: Ecological economics, sustainability, complex systems, public policy,


MSc. Thesis:





Community-based forestry (CBF), a forest management strategy in which communities take a more active role in the management of local forests, has expanded quickly around the world since the 1990s. Since communities are thought to have local knowledge and a stake in the longterm sustainability of the resource base, CBF is theoretically positioned to produce more sustainable outcomes for people and the environment. Evaluations of CBF performance, however, have generally found mixed results. For many researchers, enthusiasm is ceding to skepticism, and more research into how CBF performs in a diversity of contexts around the world is needed. This thesis first reviews the literature on CBF’s theory and performance before presenting a case study of CBF’s current status in Panama. As a developing country in the tropics facing both high rural poverty rates and ongoing deforestation, Panama is viewed as a good candidate for CBF implementation. However, using an evaluative framework developed by Gilmour (2016) finds that the country is not fully ready on political or economic grounds to support successful CBF. CBF policy studies in other countries have reported similar results. Governments are usually reluctant to devolve power and communities often lack the technical capacity to carry out management activities. Noting the persistence of these problems, the next section reflects on the broad trajectory of CBF research. By applying a computational linguistic technique called topic modeling to a database of 1,112 abstracts of CBF research articles published between 1990 and 2017, prominent topics of CBF research are identified. Trends in the proportional occurrence of research topics, including the growing influence of carbon sequestration and local outcomes research, are described. The final part of the thesis discusses what these results say about the state of CBF research and argues for complex adaptive systems theory as a good candidate to inform innovative approaches that may further advance CBF research.


Awards and Scholarships:

Joseph Armand Bombardier: Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s (CGS M), SSHRC, McGill University, ($17500) (2017).

Schulich Graduate Fellowship, McGill University (2016)

NSERC CREATE Program in Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability (BESS) Research Stipend.

Delegate, Leading Change Forum for Emerging Environmental Leaders (2016)

Studio [Y] Fellowship, MaRS Discovery District (2015)



Clare, S., Ruiz-Jaen, M. and Hickey, G.M. (2019). Assessing the potential of community-based forestry programs in Panama. Forest Policy & Economics 104: 81-92.

Clare, S. and Hickey, G.M. (2019). Modelling research topic trends in community forestry. Small-scale Forestry 18(2): 149–163.