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Human Ecology Research Group (HERG)
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Major research activities and achievements focus on resource use, conservation and development, as well as population, migration and refugee studies.
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)