UCL Anthropology


Gretchen Walters


Current Contact Information:

University of Lausanne, Institute of Geography and Sustainability, Faculty of Geosciences and the Environment

Current Post

Gretchen is a social scientist and botanist and has worked in the Americas, Europe and Africa for 20 years, 13 of which were spent in Central Africa. She is committed to bridging gaps between the biological and social-historical sciences, and gaps amongst research, practice and policy. She formerly worked for IUCN on developing their institutional approach to nature-based solutions and in mainstreaming governance within the organisation. She co-led the Responsive Forest Governance Initiative, focusing on enabling and strengthening representation of communities within local-government environmental decision-making in Africa.

She became a professor of conservation and development practice at the University of Lausanne in 2018, with a mandate to continue to engage with conservation practice. She serves as focal point for the convention between IUCN and the University of Lausanne, signed in 2019.

Recent Positions

  • 2018-present Professor of conservation and development practice, University of Lausanne
  • 2013-2018 Global Forest and Climate Change Program, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Switzerland
  • 2011-2013 Forest Program Coordinator for IUCN’s West and Central Africa program, Cameroon
  • 2012 ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Sussex. "The political ecology of fire in Central Africa: informing regional policy and conservation". Awarded but unable to accept.
  • 2010 PhD in Anthropology, University College London (2010)
  • 2000-2010 Missouri Botanical Garden, Central Africa Program, Botanist and Coordinator, St. Louis, USA & Libreville, Gabon

Honorary Associations and Memberships

  • 2020-present Honorary Member, ICCA Consortium
  • 2019-present IUCN Integrated Tiger Habitat Program Advisory Board
  • 2018-present Forum Forestier Lémanique  
  • 2018-present IUCN Commission of Environmental, Economic and Social Policy
  • 2018-present IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas
  • 2018-present IUCN Sustainable Livelihoods Inter-commission Task Force
  • 2010-present Visiting Scholar, Department of Anthropology, UCL
  • 2010-2013 Chercheuse Associée, Institut de Pharmacopée et Médecines Traditionnelles, Gabon
  • 2010-present Research Associate, Missouri Botanical Garden, USA
  • 2009-present Central African Red List Authority (plants), IUCN Species Survival Commission

Current Research and Application

  • Landscape conservation
  • Natural resource governance  in conservation practice
  • Historical ecology of Central African tropical landscapes

Select Recent Publications