UCL Anthropology’s Human Ecology Research Group (HERG) focuses, on the one hand, on the impact of resource policy and management on people’s livelihoods, health and wellbeing, and on the other, on the impacts of changing resource use on the environment and biodiversity. 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. We have a particular interest in developing methodologies for mixed methods, co-produced research on issues related to human-environment and multispecies relations.
HERG includes some 25 staff, postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers, drawn from such fields as social anthropology, ecology and demography, working on interactions of resource use, conservation, business and development:
- in regions ranging from Amazonia, East, Central and West Africa to Europe, Central, South and South East Asia;
- in ecosystems as varied as tropical rain forests, drylands, coastal and riverine wetlands and urban environments;
- 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, and international environmental initiatives (e.g., REDD+, carbon accounting and payments for wildlife conservation); and
- with a particular interest in ecosystem and threatened species ecology, policy interventions, household economy and livelihood diversification, and the wellbeing of often marginalised peoples.
- Who can join
All PhD students supervised by HERG staff are automatically enrolled and others working on related issues are welcome to do so. Students taking the Anthropology, Environment and Development MSc programme are also automatically members of HERG. Students are enrolled on the HERG site on Moodle, at the start of each term. This site includes a current news notice-board, funding opportunities, job offers, reading lists, links to outside organisations and seminars of interest.
For more information on current research themes and projects, please have a look at our staff and postgraduate student pages under the 'People' tab below.
- 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, postdoctoral 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 feedback 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.
Current Staff Members
- Phil Burnham (Emeritus Professor)
- Lewis Daly
- Caroline Garaway
- Katherine Homewood
- Jerome Lewis
- Marie-Annick Moreau
- Sara Randall (Emeritus Professor)
- Alex Tasker
- Emily Woodhouse
Current Postdoctoral Research Fellows
- Bikku Rathod
- Sahil Nihjawan
- Daniel Kricheff
Current MPhil/PhD Student Members
- Rosalie Allain
- Paul Barnes
- Andrea Bravo Díaz
- Thomas Fry
- Lydia Gibson
- Agnese Marino
- Helen Muller
- Fiacha O’Dowda
- Ellen Potts
- Adam Runacres
- Yara Shennan-Farpon
- Kristen Steele
- Alice Vittoria
External Members (and former HERG PhD students)
- Daniel Brockington
PhD (1998): Landloss and Livelihoods. The impacts of eviction on pastoralists moved from the Mkomazi Game Reserve, Tanzania
Current position: Director. Sheffield Institute for International Development
PhD (2009): Identifying and understanding consumers of wild animal products in Hanoi, Vietnam: implications for conservation management.
MSc AED: Wildlife use by Ethnic Phnong, North East Cambodia
Current position: Head of Wildlife Trade, Fauna & Flora International
- Chloe Hodgkinson
PhD (2009). Tourists, Gorillas and Guns: Integrating Conservation and Development in the Central African Republic.
Current position: Senior Programme Manager for Conservation Capacity & Leadership at Fauna & Flora International
After a number of years managing conservation projects in West and Central Africa, Chloe's current work focuses on improving conservation capacity through learning and knowledge management both within FFI and in external partners globally.
- Tatiana Intigrinova
PhD (2009): Land, people and post-socialist policies in southern Siberia
MSc AED (2003): Factors defining cattle Transhumance in ulus Khoito Gol, The Republic of Buryatia, Russia
Current position: Policy Advisor, Oxfam
- Maurus Msuha
Current position: Director of Wildlife at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in Tanzania
- Sahil Nijhawan
PhD title: “Human-animal relations and the role of cultural norms in tiger conservation in the Idu Mishmi of Arunachal Pradesh, India” (2018)
Current positions: ERSC Postdoctoral Fellow, UCL Anthropology; British Academy Visiting Fellow, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London (ZSL); Research consultant, Environmental Investigative Agency
- Chris Sandbrook
PhD (2007) "Tourism, conservation and livelihoods: the impacts of gorilla tracking at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda"
PhD (1998) People, plants and practice in drylands: sociopolitical and ecological dynamics of resource use by Damara farmers in arid north-west Namibia (1998)
Current position - Professor of Environment and Culture, Research Centre for Environmental Humanities, Bath Spa University
Website(s): www.futurepasts.net | siansullivan.net
- Gretchen Walters
PhD (2010): The Land Chief’s embers: ethnobotany of Batéké fire regimes, savanna vegetation and resource use in Gabon
Current position: Assistant Professor, Université de Lausanne
On this page you’ll find examples of PhD dissertations written by past members of HERG (since 2000), on topics ranging from the impacts of tourism, conservation and development projects; to the role of forest, dryland and aquatic resources in livelihoods; to investigations of land use management and change.
- Christine Carter (2012)
- Rafael Chiaravalloti (2017)
- Helen Cross (2014)
- Sophie Haines (2011)
- Olivier Hymas (2016)
L’Okoumé, fils du manioc : Post‐logging in remote rural forest areas of Gabon and its long‐term impacts on development and the environment
- Marie-Annick Moreau (2014)
- Chris Sandbrook (2006)
- Bjorn Schulte-Herbruggen (2012)
- Gretchen Walters (2010)
- Andrew Williams (2007)
MSc in Anthropology, Environment and Development Dissertations