The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded the University of Richmond $750,000 to assist a Peruvian university in the Amazon to better prepare students and faculty to improve biodiversity conservation and sustainability in the Amazon rainforest.

The award was made through Higher Education for Development (HED) and is one of three partnerships with U.S. universities that will focus on projects to combat deforestation in the Andean Amazon.

David Salisbury, associate professor of geography and environmental studies, is project director. He will work closely with Edgar Díaz Zuñiga, a professor and former rector of the National University of Ucayali (UNU) in Peru. The two have worked together for more than a decade. Joining them will be several non-governmental and governmental organizations, combining their advanced technical capacity with strong on-the-ground experience.

The Richmond-UNU team will build regional conservation capacity in three ways:

  • By creating an applied, interdisciplinary, science-based certificate program to complement the UNU curriculum
  • By expanding applied, science-based UNU undergraduate research theses and internships with the project’s partners
  • By organizing, editing and publishing an interdisciplinary environmental science special issue of the UNU research journal

Richmond professors will visit Peru often to reinforce training, research, mentorship and effective implementation of activities.

“The team’s field research will focus on remote, understudied regions, where relatively intact forests provide an opportunity to assess the impacts of selective logging, alternative land tenure regimes and other factors impacting on biodiversity,” Salisbury said.

The Richmond team will train UNU undergraduate students in remote sensing, GIS, GPS, research methods and conservation science.

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About USAID: 

The U.S. Agency for International Development administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.  For more information, visit


About HED 

HED mobilizes the expertise and resources of the higher education community to address global development challenges. HED manages a competitive awards process to access expertise with the higher education community in coordination with the American Council on Education (ACE), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). For more information about HED, visit


Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon (ICAA): 

Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through Higher Education for Development (HED), this partnership is one of three international higher education partnerships in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru under the Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon II: Higher Education Partnership Program. The program seeks to strengthen capacity building by improving applied research, training students, and engaging the public in support of the conservation of biodiversity. For information on USAID’s Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon, please visit

Associate Professor of Geography and the Environment, Geography Advisor
Chair, Department of Geography and the Environment
Environmental Studies Advisor
International Studies Concentration Advisor, Latin America
Human environment interface
Political ecology
Conservation and development