• Welcome to SUSTAIN

  • What We Do

    Research for resilient forest landscapes


    Brazil nuts as part of a global sustainable food system

    SUSTAIN is a research project of ETH Zurich, CIFOR and Bioversity International, and is supported by the World Food System Center. We officially collaborate with the Peruvian organizations IIAP, UNAMAD and PROFONANPE. Our research is aimed at gathering evidence to support sustainable supply chains of Brazil nuts from Peru to Switzerland.

    Brazil nuts

    An economically important forest product

    The Brazil nut is a giant tropical rainforest tree found in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. Harvested from the wild, the nutritious nuts are one of the most economically important non-timber forest products in the world. Annual exports of Brazil nuts are valued at tens of millions US dollars, but only a small fraction are sourced ethically through certification.

    Harvesting the nuts

    An important element of rural livelihoods in the Amazon

    Brazil nut harvesting is a crucial part of rural livelihoods across the Amazon region. The same rural communities also depend on timber harvesting from the same forests to keep them above the poverty line. Forest degradation, as a consequence of unplanned intensive timber harvesting, has potentially negative consequences for Brazil nut production, biodiversity conservation, and climate change.

    Our aims

    Research that contributes to a global sustainable food system

    We focus on the Madre de Dios region of Peru, which contains 26,000 square kilometers of the most biologically diverse, carbon dense, Brazil nut-rich forest in South America.


    Our specific research aims are:

    • Develop a better understanding of the effect of forest degradation on the reproductive ecology of the Brazil nut tree
    • Use this better understanding to improve Brazil nut management
    • Develop a better understanding of the barriers harvesters face to adopt certification and export standards
    • Provide COOP information about the options for a resilient and sustainable supply chain of Brazil nuts from Peru

    Through these endeavors we will provide a novel and powerful contribution to the global sustainable food system.

  • Who We Are

    A multi-disciplinary team.

    Merel Jansen

    Project coordinator

    Merel is our project coordinator based in Peru.

    Fidel Chiriboga

    Project coordinator

    Fidel Chiriboga is our project coordinator based in Peru.

    Chris Kettle

    Principal Investigator

    Chris Kettle is Principal Investigator on the project.

    Manuel Guariguata

    Principal Investigator

    Manuel Guariguata is joint Principal Investigator.

    Julia Quaedvlieg

    Local coordinator

    Julia is our local coordinator, based in Puerto Maldonado, Peru.

    Juan Andres Santalices

    Market development

    Juan is a consultant on Market Development (Fair Business Alliance). When not in Peru, Juan is based in Edinburgh, UK.

    Carmenza Robledo

    Forest governance

    Carmenza is an Associated Scientist providing expertise on forest governance and interdisciplinary tools. She is based at ETH, Zürich, Switzerland.

    Eriks Arroyo Quispe

    Local coordinator

    Eriks is coordinating several elements of our fieldwork in Puerto Maldonado, Peru.

    Flor Vargas

    Local coordinator

    Flor is coordinating several elements of our fieldwork in Puerto Maldonado, Peru.

  • Students

    Our team of students.

    Anna Borgensen

    Anna is our intern and expert in business model development.

    Gabriela Wiederkehr

    Gaby is working as an assistent, and has previously written her thesis about Brazil nut tree pollination at as part of her ETH Zürich MSc .

    Sara Hellstrom

    Sara is doing her MSc thesis on Brazil nut pollinator diversity, at the University of Lund.

    Alessia Capurso

    Alessia is doing her MSc thesis on pollinator augmentation and the effect of degradation on forest structure, at Wageningen University.

    Daniel Navarro Pérez

    Daniel is doing his BSc thesis on pollinator augmentation and the effect of degradation on forest structure, at UNAMAD.

    Francisco Ehrenberg

    MSc intern from Wageningen University

    Rens Brouwer

    MSc thesis student on “Finding best practices of Brazil nut enrichment planting in Peru”, Wageningen University.

    Maria Camila Alvarez Romero

    MSc thesis on socio-institutional characterisation at ETH Zurich.

    Simona Zahner

    MSc thesis on endofitic fungi communities at ETH Zurich.

    Ennia Bosshard

    BSc thesis student on connecting consumers of Brazil nuts to restoration activities in Madre de Dios (Peru), ETH Zurich.

    Elisabeth Lagneaux

    MSc thesis student on "Forest foods as a tool for forest and landscape restoration and an opportunity for diversified food systems in Madre de Dios, Peru" , Wageningen University/ISARA Lyon.

    Jolijn Miedema

    MSc intern from Wageningen University working with mapping and monitoring of forest-enrichment plots of planted Brazil-nut seedlings

    Jiska Schaaf

    MSc thesis student from Wageningen University working on growth responses of Brazil nut tree seedlings to irradiance after enrichment planting

    Maxime Blomberg

    MSc thesis student from Wageningen University working on the effect of soil characteristics and light availability among different types of enrichment sites on the survival and growth rate of Brazil nut seedlings

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