Jackson M.A. student Sarah Tolbert has been named a 2016-2017 Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice at Yale Law School. As a Gruber Fellow in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tolbert will collaborate with Strong Roots, a local Congolese organization, on a pilot project to help indigenous groups apply for land tenure under the 2014 Community Forest Law. The passage of the 2014 Community Forest Law is the first time communities in the DRC are able to apply for land tenure, which ensures access to the land they depend on. During her fellowship, Tolbert will work with communities in the Kahuzi-Itombwe Corridor. This area is not only home to six indigenous communities, but also provides habitat for numerous endemic and endangered species, most notably the eastern lowland gorilla.
Working closely with Strong Roots staff, traditional authorities, and local communities, Tolbert will help create Conservation Committees and work with the Committees to collect the baseline information needed for the Conservation Plans, both of which are requirements to qualify for land tenure.
Tolbert will graduate in May from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (MEM) and the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs (MA). She holds a BA from Case Western Reserve University. Prior to graduate school, Sarah worked in Benin for three years as a Peace Corps volunteer, implementing sustainable agriculture projects. She also conducted research on the cost and benefits of living near gorilla-protected areas in the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.