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Frank Merry

Research Associate Professor

Ph.D. - Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, 2001; M.Sc. - Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, 1993; B.Sc. - Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida 1989

Interest Areas: Natural resource economics; Latin America and Africa; Tropical forestry, Small farm systems, Low carbon development, and Sustainable business.

Current Activities
  • Financial Director – Aliança da Terra ( Aliança da Terra (Land Alliance) is an innovative Brazilian non-profit that is bringing governance to the forest frontier by working closely with property owners and other frontier groups, including settlers and indigenous people.  By creating the conditions to demonstrate good land management through a Registry of Social and Environmental Responsibility and by joining forces with local residents and property owners to fight fires with a Fire Brigade -- trained and supported by the US Forest Service Smokejumpers -- Aliança da Terra is changing the dynamics of the Brazilian frontier.  I work closely with Aliança da Terra in project management, institutional strategic planning, and sustainable business design to deliver financial incentives for property owners.
  • Forest Families– Working closely with two Brazilian environmental non-profits -- Institutio de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia ( and Instituto Florestal Tropical ( – as well as the timber industry, government organizations and local communities we are developing a branded timber product, whereby settlement communities manage and increase value in their forests by tracking the chain of custody of their logs through to market.   With more than 500,000 families settled in the Brazilian Amazon this model, which brings sustainable business to bear on the conservation problem, has the chance of radically changing the economics of forestry on small farm systems (the equivalent of US non-industrial private landowners) in the Amazon.
  • Low Carbon Development in Brazil and Peru– I work closely with the Center for Remote Sensing at the Federal University of Minas Gerais ( in the design an execution of spatially explicit simulation models for Brazil and Peru.  The work is part of the Amazon Scenarios project run by IPAM ( and UFMG, among others.  In this work we use results from integrated ecological and economic simulation models to conduct and publish research relevant to the political debate surrounding environmental and development issues in Latin America and elsewhere, such as REDD and Low Carbon Development. 
Experience, Additional Information, and Graduate Students


  • Research Associate Professor, Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.  September. 2011 – present
  • Senior Research Associate, Carnegie Institution of Science, Stanford University. November 2010 to August 2011  
  •  Fellow & Program Officer, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, CA. October 2008 to October 2010 
  • Associate Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, MA. 2008
  • Research Fellow, in Environmental Studies, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH (courtesy joint appointment with WHRC). 2005-2007
  • Visiting Assistant Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, MA. 2003- 2007.
  • Research Scientist, Department of Forestry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.  2001-2003; Adjunct Faculty 2003 to 2008
  • Consultant, Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, MA.  2001
  • Resource Economist, Instituto do Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM), Santarém, Pará, Brazil. 2000

Additional Information:

  • Citizen of Trinidad and Tobago; USA permanent resident.
  • Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, and basic French. 
  • Work and research experience in: Bolivia, Brazil, Guyana, Mozambique, Peru, Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago, UK, USA, and Venezuela.

Graduate Students

  • Simone Bauch, MSc Committee member. Forest Economics, Department of Forestry, Virginia Tech. Completed May 2004
  • Maria Bowman, MSc. Committee member.  Forest Economics, Department of Forestry, Virginia Tech.  Completed August 2006.
  • Eirivelthon Lima, Ph.D Committee member. Forest Economics, Department of Forestry, Virginia Tech.
  • Emily Raviola, MPH, Practicum Field Supervisor, Boston University School of Public Health. Completed March 2008.
Peer-reviewed Publications, Book Chapters, and Grants
  • Menton MCS, Lawrence A, Merry F, Brown N. 2010. Estimating natural resource harvests: conjectures? Ecological Economics  69: 1330-1335
  • Soares-Filho, B.S., Mountinho, P, Nepstad, D, Anderson, A., Rodrigues, H. Garcia, R. Dietzsch, L., Merry F., Bowman, M., Hissa, L., Silvestrini, R., and Maretti, C.  2010. Role of Brazilian Amazon protected areas in climate change mitigation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 107 (24): 10821-10826, 2010.
  • Amacher, G. S. F. D. Merry, and M.S. Bowman.  2009. Smallholder timber sales on the Amazon frontier. Ecological Economics
  • Asner, G. M. Keller, M. Lentini, F. Merry, and C. Souza. 2009. Selective logging and its relationship to deforestation. In Keller et al. (eds) Amazonia and Global Change.  pp. 25-42.
  • Menton, M, F. Merry, A. Lawrence and N. Brown.  Impacts of logging on NTFP harvests and livelihoods in colonist communities in the Brazilian Amazon. Ecology and Society.
  • Merry, F., B.S. Soares Filho, D. Nepstad, G. Amacher, and H. Rodrigues. 2009. Balancing Conservation and Economic Sustainability: The Future of the Amazon Timber Industry. Environmental Management, EUA, 44 (3): 395-407
  • Nepstad, D., Soares-Filho, B.S., Merry, F., et al.  2009. The End of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Science 326 (5958) 1350-1351. 2009
  • Pfaff, A., A. Barbieri, T. Ludewigs, F. Merry, S. Perz, and E. Reis.  2009. The Impact of Roads in the Process of Deforestation.  In Keller et al. (eds) Amazonia and Global Change.  pp. 101-116
  • Amacher, G., and F. Merry. 2008. Logging contracts and smallholder land clearing behavior in the Brazilian Amazon. In S. Mitra, Environmental Economics and Sustainability, London: Routledge Press.
  • Bowman, M., G. Amacher, and F. Merry. 2008. Fire use and management by traditional households in the Brazilian Amazon.  Ecological Economics 67:117-130
  • Johns, T. F. Merry, C. Stickler, D. Nepstad, N. Laporte, and S. Goetz.  2008. A three-fund approach to incorporating government private and public forest stewards into a REDD funding mechanism.    International Forestry Review 10: 458-464
  • Merry, F. D., G. S. Amacher, and E. S. Lima.  2008. Land values in frontier settlements of the Brazilian Amazon.  World Development 36:2390-2401
  • Nepstad, C., C. Stickler, B. Soares-filho, and F. Merry.  2008. Ecological, economic, and climatic tipping points of and Amazon Forest dieback.  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B
  • Bauch, S. C., G. S. Amacher, and F. D. Merry.  2007. Cost of harvest, transport, and milling in the Brazilian Amazon: estimation and policy implications.  Forest Policy and Economics 9:903-915.
  • Keller, M., G. Asner, G. Blate, J. McGlocklin, F. Merry, M. Peña-Claros, and J. Zweede.  2007. Timber production in selectively logged tropical forests in South America.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3:213-216.
  • McGrath, D., O. Almeida and F. Merry.  The influence of community management agreements on household economic strategies: cattle grazing and fishing agreements on the Lower Amazon floodplain. 2007. International Journal of the Commons 1:67-87.
  • Lima, E., F. Merry, D. Nepstad, G. Amacher, C. Azevedo-Ramos, F. Resque and P. Lefebvre.    Searching for sustainability: forest policies, smallholders, and the Trans-Amazon highway.  2006.  Environment. 48:26-37.
  • Merry, F., G. Amacher, D. Macqueen, M. Guimares dos Santos, E. Lima and D. Nepstad.  Collective action without collective ownership: community associations and logging on the Amazon frontier.  2006. International Forestry Review 8: 211-221.
  • Merry F., G. Amacher, D. Nepstad, P. Lefebvre, E. Lima, and S. Bauch.  Industrial development on logging frontiers in the Brazilian Amazon.  2006. International Journal of Sustainable Development.9:277-296.
  • Nepstad, D., C. Azevedo-Ramos, P. Moutinho, E. Lima, and F. Merry. Passos para uma política de gestão socioabmiental da indústria madereira da Amazônia.  2006. Ciencia & Ambiente 32:45-54.
  • Sheikh, P. A., F. D. Merry, and D. G. McGrath.  2006. Water buffalo and cattle production on the Lower Amazon: comparisons and conflicts. Agricultural Systems 87:313-330.
  • Macqueen, D.J., S. Vermeulen, C. Kazoora, F. Merry, S. Ousman, S. Saigail, S. Wen, and H. Weyerhaueser. Advancement through association: Appropriate support for associations of small and medium forest enterprise. Pp 79-98 in: Bigg, T. and Satterthwaite, D. (Eds) How to make poverty history – the central role of local organizations in meeting the MDGs. IIED, London, UK.
  • Merry, F. D. and G. S. Amacher. Forest taxes, timber concessions, and policy choices in the Amazon.  2005.  Journal of Sustainable Forestry 20(2): 15-44.
  • Merry, F. D., P. A. Sheikh and D. G. McGrath.  The role of informal contracts in the growth of small cattle herds on the floodplains of the Lower Amazon. 2004.  Agriculture and Human Values 21(4):377-386.
  • Nepstad, D., C. Azevedo-Ramos, E. Lima, D. McGrath, C. Pereira, and F. Merry.  Managing the Amazon timber industry.  2004.  Conservation Biology 18:1-3.
  • Lima, E., A. A. Leite, D. Nepstad, K. Kalif, C. Azevedo-Ramos, C. Pereira, A. Alencar, U. Lopes, and F. Merry.  2003.  Florestas Familiares: Um Pacto Sócio-ambiental entre a Indústria Madereira e a Agricultura Familiar na Amazônia.  Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM), Belém, Brazil.  106 pgs. 
  • Lima, E. and F. Merry.  2003.  The Views of Brazilian Producers – Increasing and Sustaining Exports.  In Growing Timber Exports: The Brazilian tropical timber industry and international markets. Macqueen, D. (ed.) IIED Small and Medium Enterprise Series, No. 1. IIED London, UK. pgs 82-102.
  • Merry, F. D., G. S. Amacher, E. Lima, D. C. Nepstad, B. Pokorny, and I. Scholz.  A Risky Forest Policy in the Amazon? 2003.  Science Letter 299:1843.
  • Merry, F. D., G. S. Amacher, B. Pokorny, E. Lima, I. Scholz, D. C. Nepstad, and J. C. Zweede.  Some doubts about timber concessions in the Brazilian national forests.  2003.  Tropical Forestry Update 11(3):7-9.
  • Zweede, J. C., F. D. Merry, and A. Dias.  Three years after: early stand re-entry in reduced impact logging of neo-tropical forests.  2003.  International Journal of Forest Engineering Technical note 14(2):102.
  • Merry, F. D., P. E. Hildebrand, P. Pattie, and D. R. Carter.  An analysis of land conversion from sustainable forestry to pasture: A case study in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  2002.  Land Use Policy 19:207-215. 
  • Merry, F. D. and D. R. Carter. An analysis of the Bolivian mahogany export market with policy implications for the forest sector.  2001.  Forest Policy and Economics 2:281-291.
  • Carter, D. R. and F. D. Merry. The nature and status of certified wood markets in the U.S.  1998.  Forest Products Journal 48:23-28.
  • Merry, F. D. and D. R. Carter. 1997.  Certified wood markets in the US: implications for tropical deforestation. Forest Ecology and Management 92:221-228.
  • Nair, P. K. R. and F. D. Merry. Development of Non-wood Forest Products through Agroforestry: Issues and Strategies.  1995.  In International Expert Consultation on Non-Wood Forest Products. FAO, Rome, Non-Wood Forest Products Series 3:382-395.


  • Delivering Conservation Outcomes through Sustainable Business.  Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation 2011-2012. $590,000.
  • Community Forestry and Sustainable Forest Management in Amazonian Reserves and Smallholder Settlements.  Overbrook Foundation  Co-PI with D. McGrath. $50,000 (2007-2008)
  • The Role of Natural Resources in Mitigating Political, Environmental, and Health Shocks to Poor Households in Southeastern Africa.   National Science Foundation, Human and Social Dynamics Program (2006-2009) $700,000 # BCS-0624168.  Merry (PI). Co-PIs G. Amacher, P. Epstein and N. Laporte.
  • Policy and Institutional Frameworks for Smallholder Forestry in the Brazilian Amazon.  The Tinker Foundation.  Co-PI with D. McGrath. (2006-2008). $114,000
  • Revitalization of Gorongosa National Park: Economic Effects and Implications for Surrounding Communities.  The Gorongosa Research Center, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.  (2006-2009). $80,000 
  • Integrated models of land use, fire, and carbon flux for the Xingu river headwaters and the BR163 highway corridors.  NASA Large Scale Biosphere and Atmosphere Project.  Co-PI with D. Nepstad (PI), B. Soares Filho, and O. Almeida (2005-2007). $100,000
  • The Path Less Traveled: A Long-Term Participatory Approach to Finding the Balance Between Economic Development and Resource Conservation in and Around the Gorongosa National Park of Mozambique.  The Carr Foundation.  Co-PI with N. Laporte and P. Lefebvre. (2005-2006).  $92,000
  • Stronger by Association II.  International Institute of Environment and Development. (2004-2005).  $23,000.
  • Stronger by Association.  International Institute of Environment and Development.  Co-PI with M. Campos and E. Lima.  (2004)  $42,000.
  • Overcoming Marginalization in Migrant Communities through Community Association: The Impact of Community Organization on Smallholder Wealth at the Forest Frontier in the Brazilian Amazon.  International Institute of Environment and Development.  Co-PI with D. Nepstad/G. Woodwell. (2003). $27,000. 
  • Contabilidade de Custos e Eficiência de Produção na Indústria Madeireira na Amazônia Brasileira.  To IPAM from Banco da Amazônia, Belém, Brazil.  Co-PI with B.  Pokorny CIFOR. (2002-2004). $60,000.
  • Seed Moneys for Support of International Forestry Center at Virginia Tech Department of Forestry. US Forest Service Office of International Programs.  Co-PI with G. Amacher. (2002).  $50,000
  • Addendum to Seed Money Funding for Support of International Forestry Center at Virginia Tech Department of Forestry.  US Forest Service Office of International Programs.  Co-PI with G. Amacher. (2002). $50,000
  • Continued Support for International Forestry Center at Virginia Tech Department of Forestry. Woods Hole Research Center.  Co-PI with G. Amacher. (2002). $25,000
  • Project Preparation and Development of the Instituto Floresta Tropical in Amazônia.  USDA Forest Service Office of International Programs.  Co-PI with G. Amacher.  (2001-2002). $25,000
  • Doctoral Research Grant.  Bolivian Sustainable Forest Management Project (USAID: BOLFOR) (1997-1998) $18,000
  • Doctoral Research Grant.  Bolivian Sustainable Forest Management Project (USAID: BOLFOR) (1996-1997) $18,000
  • Institute of Food and Agricultural Science, University of Florida, Doctoral Study Grant, (1994) $12,000
Other Reports and Publications
  • Laporte, N., F. Merry, A. Baccini, S. Goetz, J. Stabach and M Bowman. 2008.  Reducing CO2 Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in the Democratic Republic of Congo:  A First Look. WHRC Research Report. 26 pgs.
  • Nepstad D., B. Soares, F. Merry, P. Moutinho, H. Oliveira Rodrigues, S. Schwartzman, O. Almeida, S. Rivero, and M.Bowman. 2008.  The Costs and Benefits of Reducing Carbon Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in the Brazilian Amazon.  WHRC Research Report. 26 pgs.
  • Campos, M.T., M.R. Francis, and F.D. Merry. 2007.  Stronger by Association: Improving the understanding of how forest-resource based SME associations can benefit the poor: Brazil Case Study.  For the International Institute for Environment and Development, England, UK. 76 pgs.
  • Macqueen, D., L. Figueiredo, F. Merry and N. Porro. 2006.  Stronger by association: strengthening the position of small and medium-scale forest enterprise in the Brazilian Amazon.  Participatory Learning and Action 53.
  • Merry, F. and Macqueen, D. 2005.  Associations for business partnerships. Power tools series. Woods Hole Research Centre, Woods Hole, USA, Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia , Belem, Brazil and International Institute for Environment and Development, London, UK.
  • Merry, F., B. Pokorny, M. Steinbrenner, J. Souza, and I. Silva.  2004.  Contabilidade de Custo e Eficiência de Produção na Indústria Madeireira na Amazônia Brasileira.  Project report for Banco da Amazônia, Belem, Brazil. 115 pp.
  • Merry, F., E. Lima, G. Amacher, O. Almeida, A. Alves, and M. Guimares dos Santos.  Overcoming Marginalization in the Brazilian Amazon through Community Association: Case Studies of Forests and Fisheries.  Research Report for the International Institute for Environment and Development, England, UK, in the project Sharpening Policy Tools for Marginalized Managers of Natural Resources.   85 pgs.
  • Merry, F. and Macqueen, D.J.  Collective Market Engagement. IIED website publication PT7_collective_market_engagement.pdf
  • Zweede, J. C., G. Blate, F. D. Merry, and N. Silva.  2001.  Forest management and reduced impact logging training in the Amazon:  The Fundação Floresta Tropical.   In Proceedings: Council on Forest Engineering, 25th Annual Meeting, Auburn, Alabama.
  • Merry, F. D.  and P. Sheikh. The Management and Economics of Cattle and Water Buffalo Ranching in the Lower Amazon Basin.  2000.  Consultant Report for the Projecto Varzea, Instituto do Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia (IPAM), Santarém, Pará, Brazil.
  • Merry, F.D. and D.R. Carter.  Land Conversion from Forest to Pasture in Bolivia.  In Proceedings: Southern Forest Economics Workers Annual Conference.  April 19-20, 1999.  Ian Munn and Steve Bullard (eds).  Biloxi, MS. pp. 123-127. 
  • Pattie P. and F. D. Merry.  1999.  Forests versus Livestock: An Economic Assessment of Choices Facing Landowners in the Bolivian Lowlands.  Technical Document # 74/1999, Bolivian Sustainable Forestry Project (BOLFOR), USAID, Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
  • Merry, F.D. and D.R. Carter. 1996.  Programs and Markets for Ecologically Certified Wood Products in the U.S. In Proceedings: Redefining Roles in Forest Economics Research. Southern Forest Economics Workers Annual Conference. March 27-29. John Greene (ed). Gatlinburg, TN. p. 55-62.
  • Merry, F. D. 1995.  The costs of timber extraction and processing for the sawmill "La Esperanza" at Lomerio, Bolivia. Research report for the Bolivian Sustainable Forestry Project, (BOLFOR) USAID, Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
  • Merry, F. D. 1993.  A social safety net analysis for structural adjustment program in Trinidad and Tobago. Consultant report submitted to Inter-American Development Bank and Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Merry, F. D. 1993.  A partial equilibrium analysis of structural adjustment on the edible oils sector in Trinidad and Tobago. Consultant report submitted to Inter-American Development Bank and Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Merry, F. D. 1993.  A partial equilibrium analysis of structural adjustment on the rice sector in Trinidad and Tobago.  Consultant report submitted to Inter-American Development Bank and Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Merry, F. D. 1992.  Domestic markets for the wood products of reforestation programs: a case study of Northwestern Senegal. Report submitted to Senegal Reforestation Program, USAID, Dakar, Senegal.

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