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Department of Geography

 

Political Ecology Group

Political Ecology Group

The Political Ecology Group is interested in all aspects of the symbolic and material politics of socially constructed natures. Its interests span the industrialized and developing world. Some members of the group are active in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.

Meetings

The group meets weekly to discuss research in progress, to hear visiting speakers, or to discuss published papers.

Details of meetings are available.

Research opportunities

Members of the Political Ecology Group welcome applications from Post-Doc Researchers and potential Ph.D. students in fields close to their own research, and to the work of existing Ph.D. students. Those interested should send a 300-600 word summary of their ideas for research to ONE of the staff in the group in the first instance.

Those contemplating a Ph.D. are invited to consider the Department of Geography's M. Phil. in Geographical Research. This provides a thorough grounding in social science research methods.

Details about the Department's facilities for research students, and about application procedures may be found on the Graduate study web pages. Details about applications to the University can be obtained from the Board of Graduate Studies. Please send all general enquiries about PhD research or the M.Phil. courses to the Graduate Secretary, Department of Geography.

Political Ecology

Research projects

Research projects currently being undertaken on this theme include:

Ecosystem Services, Ecological Restoration and Conservation Strategy

Ecosystem Services, Ecological Restoration and Conservation Strategy

This project explores these issues, analysing changing ideas about ecosystem services and ecological restoration in conservation. Key questions are: 1) How are ideas about ecosystem services and ecological restoration influencing conservation strategy? 2) How can change in biodiversity and ecosystem services over long time frames and larger areas be assessed? 3) What are the implications of dynamic biophysical processes in restoration projects for conservation strategy?

Conservation and Ecosystem Services in the New biodiversity Economy

Conservation and Ecosystem Services in the New biodiversity Economy

The aim of this research is to analyse how biodiversity conservation in Europe is being reconstructed around the measurement of the economic values of nature. Our case study is the UK: a country providing a relevant context for our research given its key role at both EU and global levels in the emerging biodiversity economy. The analysis is focused on two prominent policies: payments for ecosystem services and biodiversity offsets.

Arts and Conservation Conflict

Arts and Conservation Conflict

Conservation initiatives are often highly political, and conflict is common problem in conservation. These conflicts can be difficult to address. Following a Conference on Conservation Conflict in Aberdeen in 2011, this project explores the different ways in which conservation conflicts are understood by artists and scientists.

Can Hunting and Conservation of Endemic Annamite Ungulates be Reconciled?

Can Hunting and Conservation of Endemic Annamite Ungulates be Reconciled?

This project worked to inform more effective conservation of the globally important Annamite mountains. The Annamites, which are called Trýõng Sõn in Vietnamese and Phou Luang in Lao, line the border between these two nations. They are home to a unique, poorly-known and highly-threatened community of hoofed mammals (ungulates) including the critically endangered Saola Pseudoryx nghetinhensis. The main threat to these animals appears to be from hunting.

The Political Ecology of Landscape Scale Conservation in Britain

The Political Ecology of Landscape Scale Conservation in Britain

This project is studying how large scale conservation projects have been created in the UK. It is investigating in particular 1) the kinds of partnerships or other arrangements that have been used to crate them; 2) the way science has been applied to their design; 3) how they have been influenced by thinking about climate change.

Gaming and Biodiversity Conservation

Gaming and Biodiversity Conservation

Computer games have become a vast business (worth $40 billion worldwide in 2010), and gaming is an important part of the lives of significant numbers of people across the world. New trends in the gaming industry include the expansion of "serious games", and the application of ‘gamification’ strategies in the commercial and policy worlds.

Beyond Win-Win: Interrogating Ecosystem Services Dynamics

Beyond Win-Win: Interrogating Ecosystem Services Dynamics

This project proposes to bring together knowledge about the extent of spatial and temporal overlap between ecosystem service flows from particular landscapes, as well as the ways in which different stakeholders benefit from these flows over space and time.

Land Use Change and African-Palaearctic Migrant Birds

Land Use Change and African-Palaearctic Migrant Birds

This project explores the social, economic and policy drivers of land use change in the Sahel that may be associated with population declines in Palaearctic-African migrant birds.

Microcredit in the UK: survey

Microcredit in the UK: survey

What constitutes financial inclusion in the UK? What role can microcredit play? Is the group-lending methodology important? How will the financial crisis affect the provision of microcredit? To consider these questions, a set of 32 statements has been developed, which cover many of the important issues surrounding financial inclusion and microcredit in the UK context. This survey is an attempt to find out what people think about these statements and their corresponding discourses.

Building Capacity to Alleviate Human-Elephant Conflict in North Kenya

Building Capacity to Alleviate Human-Elephant Conflict in North Kenya

This project aims to enhance the conservation and management of Kenya's second largest elephant population (over 5,000 animals) and the ecosystem they inhabit through the implementation of an integrated and sustainable community based approach for alleviating human-elephant conflict (HEC), a serious issue in Africa.

Institutions, agency and incentives in environment and development

Institutions, agency and incentives in environment and development

Research on institutions, agency and incentives has developed out of original interests in institutional economics and institutional change. A particular focus is on the way in which institutional change is negotiated between different social actors, and the extent to which structural factors influence the evolution of institutions and policy. Research has looked more specifically at the way in which institutions work in practice, especially participatory and decentralised systems of natural resource management. This work has examined collective action in resource management, and the way in which field-level outcomes are a complex product of individual agency and socio-political contexts within which actions are embedded.

Land Reform, Land Tenure and Poverty

Land Reform, Land Tenure and Poverty

Enhanced understandings of the multiple linkages between land reform, land tenure and land use and between land rights, ownership and poverty are integral to more equitable and sustainable policy in the future. Land reform is an especially pertinent topic in post-socialist transition countries and in the aftermath of decollectivisation, wherein the dissolution of formerly collectivised agricultural sectors has precipitated profound changes in the land-livelihoods nexus. This ongoing research project builds on earlier work undertaken to explore and analyse the (differentiated) effects of group or community land titling on institutions, land use and livelihoods among herders. The implications of tenure reform for poverty alleviation, resource rights and livelihoods are of particular concern and will form the focus of further planned empirical work.

Institutions, Collective Action and Cooperation

Institutions, Collective Action and Cooperation

The role of institutions in shaping and constraining access to natural resources is of increasing interest to development theorists and practitioners alike. Processes of institutional change and adaptation in the post-Soviet context present particular challenges to current thinking on institutions, cooperation and collective action. Current workfocuses on institutional change and adaptation among Mongolian pastoralists following decollectivisation of the herding sector in the early 1990s. Drawing on theories of common pool resource (CPR) management, social capital and collective action it examines institutional path dependency and the ongoing and contested processes of institutional adaptation in recent history.

Institutions and Public Policy in the Field Sciences

Institutions and Public Policy in the Field Sciences

This is an international comparative study of the history of field stations across five Arctic nations (USA, Canada, Russia, Denmark, and Sweden) with the aim of understanding how field practices drive the major agendas of environmental research. In the project we intend to use the International Polar Year 2007-2008 as an opportunity to identify and analyse the work (e.g. planning, calibrating, publishing, sharing data) required to make field observations meaningful across a range of scales and contexts of users or audiences. This also represents a singular opportunity to understand how the field sciences have generated a scientific and cultural legacy. We will analyse former and present research station sites to understand how the residues of scientific practice become valid knowledge, collective memory and heritage.

Circumpolar Governance

Circumpolar Governance

Many significant developments in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions stem from issues of governance. Current attempts to forge self-governing political regions and environmental management regimes raise profound questions about the relationship between community and territory. Traditionally, the competing ambitions and interests of nation-states have defined the structure and boundaries of the polar regions. These histories have tended to divide and stratify the regions.

Agricultural intensification in pre-colonial Melanesia

Agricultural intensification in pre-colonial Melanesia

The New Guinea project is an attempt to reconstruct the prehistorical geography of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea using archaeological data. Topics include the response of highlands society to tephra fallout from volcanic eruptions, implications of agricultural intensification for gender relations, and links between production, exchange and warfare.

Histories of environmental concern

Histories of environmental concern

This is an ongoing project that is exploring the development of ideas about nature conservation, environmentalism and sustainability.

Incorporating stakeholder perceptions in participatory forest management in India

Incorporating stakeholder perceptions in participatory forest management in India

Using the analytical framework developed in a previous NRSP project, this project will elucidate the perceptions of diverse stakeholders in the forest sector in Harda district, Madhya Pradesh, India. The project aims to increase learning about differences in stakeholder perceptions over participatory forest management in Harda district, Madhya Pradesh, India; to generate policy relevant findings that can be used to formulate inclusive policy for participatory forest management; and to communicate these findings to key stakeholders and policy actors.

Earlier projects