CSF welcomes Aaron Bruner - Senior Economist
Since he was a young child, Aaron Bruner has been interested in forest conservation. For much of his youth, he had intended to be a conservation biologist, but while at Wesleyan University, he had an economics professor who "blew his mind", and he realized that the best route to accomplish conservation was through the power of economics. It was then that he chose to study economics as an undergraduate in order to be able to speak the language of policy-makers and developers to achieve the greatest impact.
He began his career with Conservation International, where he worked on improving the efficiency of protected area management and developing incentives for local communities to conserve biodiversity. During his next 15 years at Conservation International, he worked to solve environmental and human development challenges in more than 20 countries worldwide. As Director of the Economics and Planning Program, he worked with rural communities to design community-owned and managed conservation areas, evaluated the contribution of protected areas to national and local economies, and supported governments in integrating the environment into development planning processes. He has worked on issues ranging from economic analyses of forest products to increasing the contribution of the tourism industry to biodiversity conservation. His work has often focused on making conservation a viable development option by building ecosystem services and markets for those services into decision-making.
He doesn’t mind the necessary time spent behind a desk and at conferences, but the most rewarding part of the job has been field work, including a year he spent in the forest in Northern Ecuador working with indigenous communities on alternatives to unsustainable logging. In his more recent work prior to beginning his graduate studies, he began to transition toward designing and implementing more formal economic analyses.
After 15 years in the workforce, and a desire to increase his economic skill set to better answer real-life development questions, Aaron decided the time was right to return to school. He received his Master’s degree in Public Policy from Princeton University in 2013, with a concentration in economics. This was exactly what he needed - a chance to refresh his mind and pick up a new toolkit around econometrics, behavioral economics, and development economics as they relate to conservation.
He has been a huge fan of CSF for years now and is honored, excited and motivated to join the CSF team and apply his technical knowledge to conservation. In his free time, Aaron enjoys spending time with family, being in the forest, swimming with his kids and taking long walks with his dog. He practices Muay Thai kickboxing and dreams of one day becoming a conservation superhero, fighting evil super-villains who destroy the environment without considering the economic impacts of their actions. We'll work our hardest to help him achieve that.