Diego Herrera

Natural Infrastructure Economist


Areas of expertise:
Environmental economics, forest and wetland conservation, impact evaluation

Diego Herrera is an economist working with EDF’s Mississippi River Delta restoration team. Diego is developing innovative financing mechanisms that can support nature-based coastal resilience projects by leveraging private sector investments. Specifically, he is analyzing under what conditions mechanisms such as environmental impact bonds or resilience bonds can accelerate investments in coastal restoration efforts in south Louisiana – and possible applications to other regions. This work also includes an evaluation of the economic benefits of coastal restoration projects on local industries and private beneficiaries, who could provide additional funding.


Diego’s research interests focus on the evaluation of conservation policies’ environmental and socioeconomic impacts, to inform both conservation and development planning. Prior to joining EDF, Diego held a postdoctoral research position at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont, where he studied the human health impacts of forest conservation in priority watersheds across 49 developing countries. Diego’s doctoral dissertation work at Duke University was on the evaluation of Brazilian Amazon protected areas’ local deforestation spillovers as well as their underlying mechanisms, focusing on human migrations and the expansion of road networks.


Herrera, D., Ellis, A., Fisher, B., Golden, C. Johnson, K., Mulligan, M., Pfaff, A., Treuer, T., and Ricketts, T. 2017. “Watershed Condition Predicts Children’s Health across 35 Developing Countries”. Nature Communications 8: 811. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-00775-2

Sonter, L., Herrera, D., Barret, D., Galfor, G., Moran, C., Soares-Filho, B. 2017. “Mining drives extensive deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon”. Accepted in Nature Communications.

Sills, E., Herrera, D., Kirkpatrick, J., Brandão, A Jr., Dickson, R., Hall, S., et al. 2015. “Estimating the Impacts of Local Policy Innovation: The Synthetic Control Method Applied to Tropical Deforestation”. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0132590. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132590

Pfaff, A., Robalino, J., Herrera, D. and Sandoval, C. 2015. “Protected Areas’ Impacts on Brazilian Amazon Deforestation: Examining Conservation-Development Interactions To Inform Planning”. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0129460. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129460

Pfaff, A., Robalino, J., Sandoval, C. and Herrera, D. 2015. “Protected Area Types, Strategies, and Impacts in Brazil’s Amazon: Public Protected Area Strategies Do Not Yield a Consistent Ranking of Protected Area Types by Impact”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences 370(1681).

Pfaff, A., Robalino, J., Lima, E., Sandoval, C., and Herrera, D. 2013. “Governance, Location and Avoided Deforestation from Protected Areas: Greater Restrictions can Have Lower Impact, Due to Differences in Location”. World Development 55:7-20.