Astrid Vargas // Senior Fellow
Dr Astrid is a leading conservation biologist focusing on landscape restoration, regenerative agriculture and community development, and impact investing for environmental gain. She graduated in veterinary medicine from the Complutense University in Madrid and gained her PhD in Conservation Biology from the University of Wyoming. She is a Research Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
Astrid’s current interest is in the radical re-thinking of agricultural practices with a focus on combining regenerative agriculture with landscape restoration and revitalization of rural economies. She has led the setting up of a major project in Southern Spain mobilizing over a hundred farmers to regenerate 630,000 hectares of degraded agricultural land and revitalizing the rural economy to become a self-standing, subsidy-free economy in one of the poorest areas of the country.
Prior to that, her career has spanned five continents – Europe, the USA, Latin America, the Russian Far East, and Madagascar. She has been a leading figure in the recovery of a number of iconic endangered species including the black-footed ferret in the United States, the golden-crowned sifaka in Madagascar and the Iberian Lynx, the world’s most endangered cat, in Spain and Portugal.
Astrid’s work has earned her international recognition. She was selected by the leading Spanish language newspaper El País as one of the “Top 100 Iberian-American People of the Year: Men and Women that have Made a Difference”. Awards include, among others: Environmental Career Achievement Award granted by the Ministry of the Environment of Andalucía; Career Commendation from the US Fish and Wildlife Service; Top 10 Worldwide Nominee, Future for Nature Awards, The Netherlands; Nature Conservation and Research Award, Asociación para el Estudio, Divulgación y Conservación de la Naturaleza; Outstanding Contribution to the Conservation of Nature”, ADENEX.