Tafesse Estifanos, as an environmental and resource economist, is passionate about environmental research in areas of human dimensions of socio-ecological systems. He received a PhD in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (University of Western Australia) in 2019, European Master of Science in Nematology (Ghent University) in 2011, and MSc in Environmental Sciences (Wageningen University) in 2008. Prior to his PhD, Tafesse was a faculty member at Hawassa University (Ethiopia) for over seven years and taught several undergraduate courses, including ecology, environmental sciences, conservation, and natural resources management. His research profile includes ecological economics and nature and human well-being, focusing on ecosystem services and the nexus between protected areas and livelihoods using non-market environmental valuation and impact evaluation techniques.
During his PhD research, Tafesse examined the economics of biodiversity, focusing on human values and preferences for conservation programs and the impact of Ethiopian protected areas on local livelihoods. He modelled stated preference choice experiments surveys data of local households and park visitors preferences for conservation program designs to protect the unique and endangered Ethiopian wolf in the Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. He also investigated the factors that influence humans economic values for biodiversity conservation. Furthermore, Tafesse conducted a rigorous evaluation of the impact of three national parks on household incomes using propensity score matching. His work has created a better understanding of improving conservation policies and park management, contributing to financial incentive-based mechanisms that enhance public support for conservation programs and promote sustainable use of biodiversity, such as ecotourism.
Before joining the UVM, Tafesse worked as a Research Fellow of Australian Rivers Institute and Water Future at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, and contributed to the project “Development of a cost-benefit assessment framework in support of the State of Land and Water’. As a Gund Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at UVM, his research area focuses on modelling environment and human health. This interdisciplinary research employs rigorous impact valuation methods to quantify the causal effect relationship between forest cover (and deforestation), and malaria using a large global dataset collected from malaria-endemic developing countries. The project aims to contribute to critical global environmental issues to inform appropriate conservation policies that can benefit public health outcomes.