Dr Elaine (Lan Yin) Hsiao
Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID)
Global Challenges Research Fellow, Dr Elaine Hsiao, will focus on community conservation and its revitalization in modern African states.
About Dr Elaine Hsiao's research:
"Ever since I began research in environmental peacebuilding and transboundary conservation, I have been convinced that the Albertine Rift represents a confluence of all of the world’s peace and development challenges in ecologically unique and unforgettably beautiful landscapes with an equally rich diversity of cultures. If it is possible to build positive peace between people and with nature alongside regenerative development without compromising cultural heritage in the Albertine, then it is possible anywhere.
"The story of conservation in Africa has historically been externally-driven, looking at colonial game reserves and parks as examples of a North Atlantic approach to fortress-model conservation implemented in tribal wildlands. In reality, conservation was embedded in many cultures across these landscapes, but these knowledge systems and practices have not been well-protected against political, economic, and social changes in the last decades (and arguably, hence, has resulted in significant environmental change).
"The role of traditional and local communities in modern African states is uncertain and even long-recognized communal lands are fragmenting into fenced private properties. Yet, if conservation is left to a few State agents in sequestered parklands, the state of the environment will only continue to decline. It is imperative that conservation take root outside and in between protected areas, ie connectivity and for systems of environmental governance and stewardship to be driven by people and not just a regime of paramilitaries and penalties that may or may not be effective. These are the issues that underlie my motivation to focus this research on community conservation and its revitalization.
"As a Global Challenges Fellow, I will be following on previous fieldwork in this region beginning in 2010, allowing me to go deeper with critical questions about the interstitial zones between countries and especially between communities and parks, where the greatest social, political, and development challenges arise. Most excitingly, this fellowship gives me an opportunity to strengthen my connections with local institutions and partners in Rwanda, connect them to the incredible community at the University of Sheffield, in particular those at the Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID), to co-produce research that can influence policies and practices on-the-ground."