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Project team

The work team of the Watersheds Unit consists of professionals from different countries with specializations in key areas related to integrated watershed management.

Laura Andrea Benegas Negri

Paraguayan, agronomist from the National University of Asuncion, Paraguay, with a master’s degree Integrated Watershed Management from CATIE and a doctorate in soil science with an emphasis on forest hydrology from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Laura has worked in agronomy, focusing on soil sciences, land-use planning and integrated watershed management. While working on her doctorate in soil sciences she concentrated on sustainable use of watersheds, recognizing that their management implies holistic, systematic, comprehensive and integrated approaches with a high level of complexity, which is the best way to achieve the sustainable management of any territory.

Over the years she has spent time studying river basins with water as the resource that integrates landscapes and people (social dynamics). She has also studied the role of trees in water recharge in the Central American tropics, contributing to this basic line of research to obtain more precise inputs for hydrological models to assess, predict and plan watersheds. Having worked with agrosilvopastoral systems as case studies, she obtained empirical data that will help improve the understanding of key concepts and theories such as the “sponge effect of trees” and the theory of trade-off (evapotranspiration versus infiltration), with the ultimate goal of supporting arguments for increasing the number of trees in landscapes, leading to informed decision-making by farmers and other key watershed stakeholders, who are ultimately responsible for the adoption of best practices for integrated and sustainable co-management.


Jorge Faustino Manco

Peruvian, agronomist, specialist in watershed management and territorial land-use planning, with a doctorate in natural resources and agriculture.

With broad experience in Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge has worked in teaching, training, research and technical cooperation for grassroots organizations, municipalities, governmental organizations, international organizations and private businesses. His specific areas of expertise are: soil and water conservation, land-use, watershed management, design and management of natural resource projects and territorial land use planning. In the last five years he has worked on managing resources in projects for agriculture, natural resources and rural development.


William Watler Reyes

Nicaraguan, agronomist concentrating on soil and water, with a master’s degree in integrated watershed management.

William has experience in Central America and the Caribbean, having worked in teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, training and technical cooperation.

His greatest expertise is in: watershed management; surface hydrology; land-use capacity assessment; evaluation of land-use capacity and soil surveys; geographic information systems; stakeholder analysis and climate analysis. In the last four years he has worked on the development of technical proposals for agriculture and natural resource projects.

José Ney Ríos Ramirez

Peruvian, animal husbandry engineer with a master’s degree in integrated watershed management with specializations in water and rural sanitation, geographic information systems and hydrology modeling. With more than ten years of experience, José has worked as a specialist in hydrology resources, involving activities such as: analysis of hydrological behavior; management and restoration of watersheds; use of geographic information systems; hydrological modeling; climate change/variability analysis; calculation of water footprints and monitoring of hydrological ecosystem services.

Diana A. Vega Isuhuaylas

Peruvian, forestry engineer from the National Agricultural University at La Molina, with a master’s degree in integrated watershed management from CATIE. Diana has experience in inter-agency and participatory work in the Andean and Amazon regions of Peru and in Central America.

She has carried out fieldwork in silviculture and forest species management and genetic enhancement for timber and seed production. She has contributed to undergraduate student training in forestry engineering at Peruvian universities. She was an agroforestry consultant at the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute and a forestry consultant for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). She contributed to the Focuencas II Program, formulating a participatory territorial management plan for the Sesesmiles River micro-basin in Honduras. She collaborated on the Systematization of Experiences in EcoAgriculture in Latin America project, an initiative of the EcoAgriculture Partners group, with support from CATIE. She has taught courses, given lectures and conference presentations on the topics of forestry, management and development of seed sources, watershed management and territorial planning.

She currently works as a consultant on research and teaching, development of participatory workshops, assessments and management plans for watersheds and territorial planning.


Gabriela Chaves Soto

Costa Rican, geographer with an emphasis on territorial planning from the National University of Costa Rica (UNA). Gabriela has a master’s degree in integrated watershed management from CATIE and experience working in the public and private sectors. She has worked with local water management organizations on training, research support, geographic analysis tools and resilience of social-ecological systems. She is currently developing and implementing projects on integrated watershed management.