Broadly speaking, I am interested in making conservation effective, an interest which spans spatial modelling, impact evaluations, and the political-economic and human dimensions in conservation. Starting out from a zoology/ecology perspective at the undergraduate level, I have more recently become interested in understanding conservation from the political ecology and environmental justice angle, and framing conservation/sustainability issues from an ecological economics perspective.
For my PhD, I am focusing on conservation areas, a key conservation policy tool. Tropical forests and biodiversity are still being lost, despite decades/centuries of protected area gazettement. Historically, protected areas set aside for conservation were based on the exclusion of local and indigenous peoples, often further entrenching structural inequalities. Recent studies have shown how some indigenous communities, with their traditional knowledges and ways of relating to nature which are different to western epistemologies, are better able to conserve forests and biodiversity.
Acknowledging the colonial and continuing injustices that indigenous peoples face, and respecting their full right to self-autonomy and governance, I am interested in how indigenous lands could contribute to conservation objectives of reducing forest and biodiversity loss and the mechanisms by which this can be facilitated. There has been greater acknowledgement of indigenous’ contribution and inclusion of their diverse knowledges and values in international biodiversity policy fora (eg Convention of Biological Diversity Aichi Biodiversity Target 18 and Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services objective 3b).
Indigenous lands have the potential to contribute to achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 of “at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water... conserved” by inclusion under “Other effective area-based conservation measures”, should indigenous governments wish to include their lands in reporting.
At the local level, as a consequence of globalisation, many local land use and land cover changes are a result of distant forces. Telecoupling, which describes socioeconomic and environmental interactions of coupled human and natural systems over distances (Liu et al., 2013, Ecology & Society), could be a useful tool in understanding the changes happening in protected areas and indigenous areas.
Collecting field data from Colombia using mixed methods, this analysis would provide in-depth understanding of the major influences affecting these systems and contribute to protecting the country’s rich biological and cultural diversity.
Apart from my academic interests, I am very keen on a future that is socially just, equitable to all humans and non-humans, and actually sustainable, ie not pursuing economic growth for its sake, but putting wellbeing at the centre of society
I am interested in commons and conviviality, decolonising our syllabus and imaginaries, and simplicity. I also enjoy slow travel, climbing, and gatherings of family and friends around food, especially food from Singapore and her neighbours!