Laura Rival has worked on a number of interrelated projects that together illustrate her distinctive approach to the Anthropology of Nature, Society and Development.
Since 2010, she has investigated various ‘carbon projects’ to examine empirically how the concept of ‘ecosystem services’ is used in practice to guide decisions about the allocation of resources provided by nature. She has shown that payments for ecosystem services may function as environmental governance mechanisms that promote social and environmental policy integration. This has led her to document the ways in which proposals to value and govern diversity relate to the production, circulation and use of knowledge about biological and cultural diversity linkages. Finally, and building on her long-term interest in the cultivated ecosystems of indigenous lowland South America, she has discussed the economic, social and cultural importance of interactions between wild and cultivated landscapes. She is currently studying small-scale farming and grassroots networks that share practical knowledge about sustainable living in order to improve livelihoods in marginalised communities of Latin America.