Human Ecology Research Group (HERG)
WHERE AND WHEN: Every Tuesday, 2-4pm
FIRST MEETING: Tuesday 6th October, 2-4pm
MOODLE DETAILS: https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=3375
All MSc AED students as well as PhD students supervised by CG, KH, JL, SR in the area of Human Ecology, are enrolled on the HERG site on Moodle, at the start of each term. HERG’s Moodle site includes a current news notice-board, funding opportunities, job offers, reading lists, links to outside organisations and seminars of interest.
UCL Anthropology’s Human Ecology Research Group (HERG)
focuses, on the one hand, on the impact of resource policy and
management of people’s livelihoods, health and welfare, and on the
other, on the impacts of changing resource use on environment and
biodiversity. Furthermore, it focuses on developing new methodologies
for participatory research. The Human Ecology group includes some 25
staff, postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers working on interactions
of resource use, conservation, business and development in regions
ranging from Amazonia, East, Central and West Africa to Siberia and
South East Asia; in ecosystems from tropical rain forest through
drylands to coastal and riverine wetlands, and with a research focus
ranging from single species interactions with people (e.g. great
apes/large carnivores) through to broader themes such as bushmeat; fire
management regimes; fishers and aquatic resources; pastoralists;
corporate social responsibility; international initiatives such as REDD,
carbon accounting and payments for wildlife conservation. HERG research
explores the interactions of eco-system management regimes, wildlife
conservation and rural livelihoods in less developed countries, and
focuses particularly on ecosystem and threatened species ecology, policy
interventions, household economy and livelihoods diversification.
Our research group uses the human ecological perspective, which emphasises interdisciplinarity to develop new understandings and narratives of people’s interactions with the natural environment and the impact of human activities on nature. The group consists of a diverse range of contributors – from social anthropologists to ecologists and demographers with research projects across the world.
Who can join
All PhD students supervised by HERG staff are automatically enrolled and others working on related issues are welcome to do so. Masters students taking the Anthropology, Environment and Development programme are also automatically members of HERG.
For more information on current research themes and projects, go to our research page.
A brochure providing information on the MSc in Anthropology, Environment and Development is available.
What we do
Human Ecology is distinctive for its interdisciplinary nature, meshing both natural and social sciences approaches to the study of environment and development issues in both rural and urban settings. It aims to develop a better understanding of the way people impact on the natural world, and conversely of the way environmental policies and practices affect people’s welfare, livelihoods, land use and natural resource management.
The Human Ecology Research Group at UCL was set up by Anthropology staff in 1992. From our original focus on African rangelands and forests, the group has expanded its remit to encompass research into rural and urban populations in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Members of the group are directly involved in multi-disciplinary research using anthropological, ecological, historical, demographic and GIS data in the analysis of social factors influencing land use and environmental change. The group provides a forum for masters, post doctoral and post graduate researchers from Anthropology and other Departments to share ideas and experiences relevant to the study of the way people use natural resources, and the ways environmental policies affect welfare and livelihoods.
HERG promotes information sharing and communication between researchers by providing a regular forum for research students as well as academics to present work in progress, to receive feed-back and to develop ideas with other researchers and conservation professionals. As postgraduates have completed their research and gone on to professional roles outside UCL, the group has evolved into a broader association that includes individuals based in other institutes and agencies. HERG members share a keen interest and experience in the management and maintenance of the natural environment, and concern for understanding the role of key stakeholders, from households and local communities to local, national and international development, commercial and government agencies. Collaboration with national and international policy makers and practitioners is considered a priority by the group, given the very applied nature of the research area.
Past and current members of HERG are working with a range of national and international government agencies as well as with research institutes and other universities, NGOs, charitable organisations, and consulting companies involved in environment and development, These include: Farm Africa, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the International Livestock Research Institute, the European Union; the Department for International Development (UK); the International Institute for Environment and Development (UK); the Ford Foundation (Mozambique); the World Wide Fund for Nature; CARE (Canada); Flora and Fauna International; the Environment and Development Group (Oxford, UK); the Harvard Tropical Forestry Field Project; SOS Sahel International (UK); the Food and Agricultural Organisation, Rome); and the Institute of Zoology, (London, UK). Research carried out by the group can be broadly grouped into research programmes and research projects.
- Research programmes include studies carried out in collaboration with other universities and research institutions, primarily in Europe and Africa, involving a number of researchers from different disciplines. Research programmes carried out by the HERG include the European Union (EU) and the Department for International Development (DFID) funded studies in Benin and Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania and Kenya.
- Research projects include studies designed and carried out by individual researchers, usually in close collaboration with national development, conservation or research programmes in the study country. Such research projects have been carried out in Algeria, Brazil, Belize, British Guyana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Lao PDR, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Siberia, Sierra Leone, Sri lanka, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, UK, Vietnam, Zimbabwe and others. Current post-graduates within HERG are funded by ESRC, EU, DFID, WWF, and IUCN among others.
Major research activities and achievements focus on resource use,
conservation and development, as well as population, migration and
Resource use, conservation and development
Degradation discourses have dominated policies of developing country governments and international conservation agencies, sometimes in ways that undermine conservation and development goals. Our research, focusing on local land use, livelihoods, tenure, access and resource use impacts, challenges conventional wisdom and practice in important test cases, including our current project on Biodiversity, Ecosystem services, Social sustainability and Tipping Points in East African Drylands (Katherine Homewood, Aidan Keane, with IoZ, ILRI and ATPS: NERC/ESRC/DFID funded, 2011-2013). Multi-site rangelands research in East Africa demonstrated the conservation-compatible nature of pastoral land use in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, analysed the microeconomics of ecotourism’s failure to underpin sustainable conservation and development, and explored impacts of veterinary interventions (Katherine Homewood, Sara Randall, with postdocs Michael Thompson, Pippa Trench, Fumi Mizutani Wells; DfID- and DGIC-funded). This led to practical involvement with UN-OCHA training for Ethiopian government officials, advice and advocacy; a Linacre Lecture (Katherine Homewood, 2003) co-chairing a Wellcome Symposium Panel (Animal Health in Developing Countries: Homewood, Cambridge, 2007) and membership of EU-FP7 Advisory Group for International Scientific Cooperation (2006-).
Caroline Garaway addresses comparable concerns in small-scale fisheries where development, conservation and enhancement programmes frequently have unexpected and undesirable impacts, either in terms of fisheries production and/or biodiversity and/or local livelihoods. Research focuses on how a greater understanding of local livelihoods, patterns of resource use and systems of control, tenure and access can both explain and potentially improve conservation/development outcomes. Systems under study have included inland Fisheries Enhancement (Lao PDR); Marine Protected Areas (Carribean); Riverine Reserves (Indonesia) and ricefield ecosystems (India, Lao PDR). She collaborates with overseas governments (West Bengal, Lao PDR, Thailand), universities (UWI, AIT), and national/international research agencies (CANARI, WorldFish, CIFRI, FAO). Caroline Garaway held visiting fellowships at Sydney (2003) and Worldfish Cambodia (2007), gave invited presentations at the 7th and 8th Asian Fisheries Forum 2004, 2007, and contributed to organising international meetings including Institutional Arrangements for Marine Protected Areas, Mexico 2002, and International Symposia on Enhancement and Sea Ranching Seattle, (2007) and Shanghai, China, (2011).
Related issues surround tropical forest people’s non-timber forest product (NTFP) extraction, conservation and development (Katherine Homewood, Jerome Lewis, postdocs since 2001 include Terry Sunderland, Noelle Kumpel, Naya Sharma Paudel) linking to other research groups (co-supervisions with Primate ecology), departments (Biology, Geography), and the Institute of Zoology (co-supervisions on people/predator interactions, bushmeat, NTFPs). Jerome Lewis began working with Pygmy hunter-gatherers and former hunter-gatherers in Rwanda in 1993. This led to work on the impact of the genocide on Rwanda’s Twa Pygmies. Since 1994 he has worked with Mbendjele Pygmies in Congo-Brazzaville researching child socialisation, play and religion; egalitarian politics and gender relations; and communication. Studying the impact of global forces on many Pygmy groups across the Congo Basin has led to research into human rights abuses, discrimination, economic and legal marginalisation, and to applied research supporting conservation efforts by forest people and supporting them to better represent themselves to outsiders.
Population and migration
The implications of mobility for demogrpahic dynamics, livelihoods and human well-being is of major theoretical, methodological and applied importance. Sara Randall’s work challenges purely quantitative demography, demonstrating the importance of anthropological approaches. Her ESRC-funded research on demographic implications of repatriating former refugee pastoralists contributed to the emerging field of demography of conflict. This work supported an RA and led to visiting fellowships (American University of Beirut, 2003 and Université Laval Québec 2011). Consultancies with FAO (migrant fishers) and OXFAM (pastoralist survey methodologies) led to further ESRC-funded research 2007-9, with important applied implications for poverty mapping (see below on households). Sara Randall is involved in the Ouagadougou Population Observatory in collaboration with ISSP, Ouagadougou Burkina Faso. This demographic surveillance system is following six poor urban communities. She is focusing health issues amongst migrants to Ouagadougou and the welfare of the elderly in these communities. Further West African work collaborating (funded by Nuffield small social science grant) with Nathalie Mondain (University of Ottowa) and Alioune Diagne (IN-DEPTH NETWORK, Accra) is investigating the impact of international migration on those left behind in Senegal, Alioune was awarded a British Academy visting research fellowship to spend two months working with HERG in 2008.
1. Changing Maasai Land Use and Livelihoods (Katherine Homewood, ongoing):
Multi site comparative study and synthesis of the outcomes of changing land use and the implications for wildlife conservation, poverty reduction and economic development: Kenyan, Ethiopian and Tanzanian rangelands. Funded by ESPA (ESRC/NERC/DfID); ASARECA (USAID), EU.
2. Forest people resource use and rights (Jerome Lewis, ongoing):
Studying the impact of global forces on many Pygmy groups across the Congo Basin has led to applied research supporting conservation efforts by forest people and supporting them to better represent themselves to outsiders, as well as research into human rights abuses, discrimination, economic and legal marginalisation. Recent work has examined the impact of international standards for industrial companies working in areas of high biodiversity, and used this information to promote best practice, with publications on free, prior and informed consent (2008), and corporate greivance mechanisms (2011) and by contributing to the development of the Forest Stewardship Council’s regional guidelines for the Congo Basin.
As part of efforts to increase local capacity to implement higher standards in eco-system management, Jerome Lewis was central to the establishment of The Centre for Social Excellence in Cameroon that trains young Congo Basin post-graduates in social forestry, and the community radio station Biso na Biso in northern Republic of Congo that promotes local understading of environmental and social issues in local languages. Work developing Extreme Citizen Science has lead to a major new project funded by EPSRC (2011-2016) to develop the technologies and practices to support any community, regardless of literacy or educational levels, to elaborate and implement Citizen Science projects as a means to address environmental problems and human rights issues.
3. Anthropological demography, especially of African nomadic pastoralists (Sara Randall, ongoing):
The consequences of conflict and displaced or refugee populations; migration and mobility: Integrating qualitative and quantitative data to improve our understanding of population and environment data and the biases within them.
4. The human ecology of living aquatic resources use (particularly in SE Asia) and the development of integrated approaches to living aquatic resources management and research. (Caroline Garaway, ongoing research interests):
Impact of fisheries and agricultural development on living aquatic resources, local livelihoods and human/environment interactions; Marine Protected Areas: Conservation; tourism; and development; CBNRM and institutional approaches to common pool resource management; Action research, in particular Adaptive Learning Approaches in Fisheries Management; Development of integrated approaches to living aquatic resources management and research.
5. Households and other data categorisations (Sara Randall, ongoing):
Much research on poverty, well-being, livelihoods and many international indicators of wellbeing (eg Millenium Development Goals) depend on data produced from small scale or international household surveys. This research (financed by ESRC and ANR) and in collaboration with Ernestina Coast (LSE, ex HERG) French, Senegalese, Burkinabe and Ugandan researchers is investigating the implications of definitions of key social units such as the household for the ability of to represent people’s daily lives. This may be particularly important when studying poverty, minority groups and interventions which are informed by such data. (see www.householdsurvey.info)
6. Understanding the influence
of community-based forest management on wellbeing and ecosystem services in
Tanzania (ESPA early career’s fellowship
– Dr Nicole Gross-Camp, PI, 2014-January 2017)
Working in a two districts – Rural Iringa and Kilwa – and eight villages, four with and four without community-based forest management. Using mixed methods including participatory video, participant observation, documentary analysis, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions.
The MSc in Anthropology, Environment and Development programme combines biological and social anthropological approaches
to examine the ecology of resource use in developing societies and to
evaluate the environmental implications and outcomes of these activities
in terms of human subsistence and welfare. The taught programme
consists of seminars, lectures and tutorials.
The following elements are compulsory for all taking the programme: Core Course in Research Use and Impacts, Graduate Seminar in Research Methods and Human Ecology Research Group Seminar.
In addition, students must choose two optional topics for examination. Optional topics include: Ecology of Human Groups, Population and Nutrition, Economic and Political Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, various options on Regional Ethnography, and Current Themes in Conservation.
In addition to the above, the department offers an array of optional research seminars in Biological Anthropology, Social Anthropology, Material Culture, Medical Anthropology and African Ethnography, which are available to interested MSc students. The programme is examined by unseen and take-home examinations, assessed essays, and a thesis of not more than 15,000 words.
- Current Staff Members
- Current PhD Student Members
- Current PostDoctoral Research Fellows
- External Members
Sophie L Haines
- STAFF ALUMNI
- PhD ALUMNI
PhD Thesis: Rural subsistence and protected areas: community use of the miombo woodlands of Lake Malawi National Park
Date of Award: 1996
Key Areas of Interest: Social development, development in fragile states.
Current research/work: Deputy Head of DFID's Civil Society Department - DFID's central department for policy, funding and relationships with civil society organisations.
• Jan 2010 - present, Deputy Head Civil Society Department, DFID (based in Scotland)June 2008 - December 2009, Senior Social Development Adviser/Results Team Leader, DFID DRC (Kinshasa)
• May 2006 - May 2008 Social Development Adviser, DFID DRC (Kinshasa)
• February 2002 - April 2006 Programme Director CARE South Africa-Lesotho (Johannesburg)
• December 1999 - February 2002 Social Development Adviser/Team Leader
• CARE Uganda (Kasese)
• March 2006 - August 2009 Research Associate International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED, London)
• October 2002 - March 2006 PhD UCL (field work in Malawi)
PhD title: Identifying and understanding consumers of wild animal products in Hanoi, Vietnam: implications for conservation management.
Date of Award: 2009
PhD title: Tourists, gorillas and guns: integrating conservation and development in the Central African Republic.
Date of Award: 2009
Current research/work: Works with Fauna & Flora International as the Programme Manager for Liberia, since 1997 and is currently helping them to implement five projects. This includes working at the national level, strengthening forest management, and at the local. Working with local communities around Sapo National Park to develop the first community-run forests in the region.
PhD title: Human impacts on carnivore biodiversity inside and outside protected areas in Tanzania
Date of Award: 2009
PhD title: The Land Chief’s embers: ethnobotany of Batéké fire regimes, savanna vegetation and resource use in Gabon
Date of Award: 2010
PhD title: Common pool resource management round Ruaha
Date of Award: 2005
- ANTHROPOLOGY ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT ALUMNI
MSc Thesis Title: Wildlife hunting in Miju Mishmi, an Indigenous group in Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India: a socio-economic and cultural study.
Date of Award: 2009
Key Areas of Interest: Biodiversity conservation, Protected Areas, Conservation Politics, Indigenous communities, Wildlife hunting practices, Community-based conservation
Current research/work: Wildlife Hunting and Conservation in a Himalayan Borderland of the Mishmi hills, Northeast India
• 2010, Independent Consultant, IUCN-NL and Wildlife Trust of India.
• 2006, Research Affiliate, Nature Conservation Foundation, India
• 2003, Project Officer, Wildlife Trust of India
• 2002, Project Officer, Centre for Environment Education
Msc Thesis Title: Participatory Forest Management and REDD: A Local Level Perspective from Village Lands in Angai Forest, Tanzania
Date of Award: 2010
Msc Thesis Title: Women's Involvement in agriculture in two Samoan villages
Date of Award: 2000
T. Paul Cox
Link to individual webpage : www.tpaulcox.com
Msc Thesis Title: The land as a casualty: Soil, cattle, and the future in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Date of Award: 2008
Key Areas of Interest: Agricultural development, conflict, smallholder farming, soil and pest management, food systems, international migration.
Current Research/Work: Consulting on research projects and publications with organizations including the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, International Center for Tropical Agriculture, and CGIAR Systemwide Program on Integrated Pest Management. Reporting on current research and development for New Agriculturist magazine and the Department for International Development.
• 2009-2010, Freelance writer, researcher and editor, USA
• 2009-2010, Contributing writer, New Agriculturist, UK
• 2008 MSc Anthropology and Ecology of Development, UCL, UK
MSc Thesis Title: Indigenous mapping in Cameroon: negotiating resources access with forest peoples.
Current research/work activities: Intern with the Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania in Boston, MA, USA, doing a consultancy for the Locally-Managed Marine Area Network that operates in the Pacific Islands.
MSc Thesis Title: Water Access, Management and Policy: Case Study of Imalilo Songwe Village Tanzania
Date of Award: 2003
MSc Thesis Title: Indigenous environmental politics in Sweden: Sami reindeer herding families negotiating social and ecological change.
Date of Award: 2008
MSc Thesis Title: "A turtle live is worth more than a turtle dead": a case study of the socio-economic impacts of community based conservation and ecotourism in Matura, Trinidad and Tobago
Date of Award: September 2012
Key areas of interest: Natural resources management, sustainable development
Current research/work activities: Ameliorating refugee/IDP protection through environmental and natural resources management, assessing environmental impacts of refugee/IDP camps
• May 2012 - present, Intern, UNHCR, Switzerland
• July - September 2010, Intern, UNESCO, France
• September 2011, MSc Anthropology, Environment and Development, UCL, United Kingdom
Msc Thesis Title: Forest product extraction and impacts in the Uluguru Mountains Tanzania
Date of Award: 2000
MSc Thesis Title: Beach-hawking for women: Impacts of gender, employment and tourism dynamics on women beach hawkers in Sanur, Bali
Key areas of interest: Community development and empowerment, gender, behaviour change communication
Current research/work activities: Working for World Bank - PNPM Support Facility (PSF) on Program Nasional Pemberdayaan Masyarakat/PNPM (National Program for Community Empowerment) in Indonesia. PNPM Mandiri is the government's flagship community-driven development program. PNPM focuses on reducing poverty in all Indonesian provinces through a community planning process that generates employment and invests in small-scale infrastructure projects that improve the development of individual villages and urban wards. Since 1998, the World Bank has supported PNPM and its predecessor programs through a combination of loans and technical assistance.
• October 2011 - now, Communication Associate/PSF-World Bank, Indonesia
• Sept 2010 - Sept 2011, MSc. Antrhopology, Environment & Development, UCL, United Kingdom
• May 2010 - September 2010, Research Consultant, PA-CSR, Indonesia
• Aug 2009 - May 2010, Consultant, Church World Service (CWS) Asia Pacific, Thailand
• Jan 2003 - July 2009, Graduate Certificate in Environment & Planning, RMIT University, Australia; Consultant for CWS New York and CWS Indonesia
• Feb 2002 - Oct 2002, Salsa Tatarasa Utama, Communications Coordinator, Indonesia
• Jan 2000 - Feb 2002, B.A. Professional Communications, RMIT University, Australia
MSc Thesis Title: REDD+ as a Strategy to Consolidate Community Forest Management. A Case Study Choco Darien Colombia.
Date of Award: Sept. 2011
Key areas of interest: Community based Conservation, Forest Communities, Forest Conservancy, Sustainable Development, REDD+
Current research/work activities: Project Coordinator Conservation Corridor Choco - Darien under REDD+ scheme.
• Sep 2011, Project Coordinator, Anthrotect, Colombia
• Sep 2011, MSc Anthropology, Environment and Development, UCL, London
• Jun 2006 to 2010, Project Coordinator, Botanical Garden of Medellin, Colombia
• Jun 2006 , Forest Engineer, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Colombia
Link to individual webpage: http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/people/scales/
MSc thesis title: "The moabi tree (Baillonella toxisperma) - Use and use conflicts in the Mokoko River Forest Reserve, Cameroon."
Date of Award: 2001
Carolina Schneider Comandulli
MSc Thesis Title: Protectionists and the Guaraní: the village that did not exist socio-environmental conflict in southern Brazil
Date of Award: 2009
Link to individual webpage: http://www.see.leeds.ac.uk/people/c.sutcliffe
MSc Thesis Title: Sustaining allotment sites-Community management of an 'urban commons' in a context of change
Date of Award: 2004
Link to individual webpage: http://www.akingump.com/ctimura/
MSc Thesis Title: Comparative Analysis of "Environmental Conflicts" in Three Settings: Guinea Fowl War, Northern Region, Ghana, Zapatista, Rebillion Chiapas, Mexico, and Eldorado do Carajas, Para, Brazil