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Carmen L. Lacambra Segura, BA MSc

Carmen L. Lacambra Segura, BA MSc

PhD Student

Natural disasters, vulnerability and ecosystems in coastal neo-tropical regions of Latin America. Coastal Zone Management and sea level rise. Coastal Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity and Conservation.


Carmen is a biologist from Los Andes University in Colombia. She holds a Masters degree from the University of Hull in Estuarine and Coastal Science and Management, most of her career has revolved around topics related to marine resources and coastal zone management in the wider Caribbean Region. Carmen has also worked in several conservation and biodiversity related projects in other regions of Latin America, mostly Colombia. She was an intern in UNEP-WCMC (as part of the Chevening scheme for young professionals), where she was able to participate in several projects that included research, information management and policy making issues in biodiversity, conservation, and ecosystem services, at local, regional and global levels.


  • UNEP-WCMC. Chevening Scholar (2002-2003) and Consultancy (2003-2005)
  • INVEMAR. Colombian National Institute of Marine and Coastal Research. Research Assistant. (2001-2002)
  • Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies. University of Hull. UK. Coastal Ecologist, (1998-2000)
  • Colombian Oceanographic Commission. Research Assistant. (1996-1997)


  • PhD. Student. CCRU. Dept. of Geography, University of Cambridge, 2005-present
  • MsC Estuarine and Coastal Science and Management. University of Hull. Hull, UK (1998)
  • BA Biology. Dept. of Biology. University of Los Andes. Bogota, Colombia (1996)


Climate-related events and seismic activities impact the coastal areas of Latin America. Seismic events are more frequent on the Pacific coast whereas the Caribbean coasts are affected more frequently by climate-related events. Quite apart from long-term sea level rise and individual extreme events, every year thousands of families are affected by storm surges and floods on both the Pacific and the Caribbean coasts; reactions to these events are more focussed on mitigation and emergency attention rather than on preventing or preparing for these frequent events or even larger, less frequent, events. For small cities and towns in the region, facing the impacts of coastal hazards such as hurricanes, tsunamis, yearly floods, storm surges and even sea level rise, through engineering solutions and infrastructure measures are not realistic options. Furthermore, these problems are intensifying. Whereas in the past the natural environment has been able to adapt and resist to such events, pressure, both natural and human created, on coastal ecosystems has increased enormously.

This research aims to assess the use of coastal ecosystems in the Colombian coastal zones as mitigation tools/strategies for coastal hazards (natural disasters) including sea level rise; this will be achieved by gathering together the existing information on the impacts of natural disasters in coastal areas (effects on population and infrastructure), the current capacity on coastal populations to respond, the geomorphology of the areas and the status, composition and management of natural ecosystems occurring in coastal areas. The research will focus on two Colombian cities, Tumaco on the Pacific coast and Cartagena facing the Caribbean Sea. Although regulated by the same legislation and similar development controls, they are very different geologically, ecologically and economically.

The resulting product will be tested in similar coastal areas in Latin America aiming to develop an index/pattern applicable to the region in which response and resilience capacities of natural ecosystems as well as the geomorphology of coastal areas are parameters considered together with the economic capacity and human settlements' capacity to respond.


Selected publications

  • Crean, K. & Lacambra, C. 2003. From Population Ecology to Socio-Economic and Human Health Issues. Chapter 9, In Effects of Pollution on Fish Ed by Lawrance A. and Hemingway, K. pg 289-318. UK.
  • Vides, M., Londoño, L., Alonso, D., Lacambra C., Fontalvo, M., Sierra, P., Arias, F. 2003. Vulnerabilidad de las Zonas Costeras Colombianas ante un Eventual Ascenso del Nivel del Mar (Colombian Coastal Zones sea level rise vulnerability). XIIth Seminar of Sea Sciences and Technologies. Santa Marta. Colombia
  • Lacambra, C. & Pinilla G. 2003. Arauca River Ictiofauna Characterization in the area of influence of the Caño Limon Oil Production Field, Arauca - Colombia. In: Biodiversidad de la Orinoquia; Von Humboldt Institute
  • Lacambra, C. Alonso, D & Lozano P. 2003. Natural Disasters and Coastal Hazards Reported in the Colombian Coasts - A primary approach to their effects and guidelines for their prevention and management. Invemar. In publication by Invemar

Collaborating author in the following

  • UNEP 2005. After the Tsunami. Rapid environmental assessment. UNEP Asia Tsunami Task Force.
  • WWF 2004. Living Planet Report 2004. WWF International. Switzerland.
  • IDEAM, SINCHI, IAvH, IIAP, INVEMAR. 2002 Sistema de Información Ambiental de Colombia - SIAC-. Primera Generación de los Indicadores de la Línea Base de la Información Ambiental de Colombia (Baseline for environmental information indicators). Ministry of Environment, Colombia