Howard Daugherty, a professor of environmental studies and a researcher in neotropical ecosystems, died on Feb. 12 after a short illness. He was 68.
Prof. Daugherty was also the public face of York’s Las Nubes Reserve, a 133-hectare area of mountainous cloud forest in Costa Rica. The land was donated to York University by Dr. Woody Fisher in 1998 and Prof. Daugherty played a key role in its oversight.
Born in Kremmling, Colorado, Prof. Daugherty received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in ecology at the University of Georgia. His primary areas of research included studying protected areas in the neotropics, natural resource policy and management, biological conservation and sustainable development. Prof. Daugherty was keenly interested in human disturbance of tropical ecosystems and how to prevent the loss of the tropical rainforest due to deforestation for agriculture.
In addition to his work within York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES), Prof. Daugherty was a member of the teaching faculty of the Latin America and Caribbean Studies Program. He was also a Fellow in York’s Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean and a member of the Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability.
Right: Howard Daugherty
At FES, Prof. Daugherty taught biological conservation, resource management in the Third World, and development and ecology in the Third World. He supervised graduate student researchers in the areas of applied ecology, biological conservation and protected areas management in the tropics.
Las Nubes, situated adjacent to Chirripó National Park and the Amistad Biosphere Reserve in Costa Rica, means "the clouds" in Spanish. Fisher, a medical doctor, was inspired to purchase the rain forest and preserve its immense biodiversity after visiting the country on a holiday. Prof. Daugherty played a key role in making the reserve a living laboratory where York faculty and students, along with international partners, conduct valuable research related to protecting the biodiversity of the region, sustainable development of local communities and understanding and conserving our global biosphere.
The Las Nubes Reserve, coupled with Prof. Daugherty’s own commitment to research in fair trade and to the communities adjacent to the reserve, has also helped raise public awareness about the value of shade-grown, organic coffee as an ecologically sound alternative to deforestation of critical ecosystems in Latin America. Prof. Daugherty was the primary steward behind York’s partnership with farming cooperatives in the area and Timothy’s Coffees of the World to produce Las Nubes Coffee, York’s own brand of sustainable, fair trade coffee, which is sold at Timothy’s Coffee stores in Canada and through several food establishments on the University’s Keele campus. A portion of all sales of the coffee is donated to the Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation, which supports ongoing research and conservation activities in the Las Nubes region.
Prof. Daugherty received numerous awards over the course of his career for his work. Most recently, he was the recipient of the 2009 Faculty Member Award for Outstanding Contribution to Internationalization from York International. The award recognized his contributions to the internationalization of the student experience at York University. He was also very proud of several national awards for outstanding environmental service in El Salvador and Honduras, including the prestigious Blanca Jeannette Kawas National Award for Excellence in Environmental Service in Honduras. The Specialty Coffee Association of America awarded Prof. Daugherty its Sustainability Award in 2005 for his outstanding contributions to fostering a more sustainable coffee community.
He leaves his wife Marina, and daughters Jessica, Alexandra, Danielle and Marrianne, and his brother James. Visitation for Prof. Daugherty will take place on Friday, Feb. 19, from 5 to 9pm, at the Elgin Mills Cemetary and Visitation Centre, 1591 Elgin Mills Road, located at the corner of Elgin Mills Road and Leslie Street in Richmond Hill, Ont. A funeral service will take place Saturday from 2 to 4pm, at the same location.