CHLOË CHESNEY

PhD Student

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My principal research interests lie in understanding the socio-cultural development of humans, the relationships between humans and wildlife and the influence of anthropogenic activities on biodiversity. I am passionate about the inclusion of existing cultural beliefs into conservation strategy and acknowledging the key role of people who share their landscape with protected species. My research and practical work to date has used interdisciplinary socio-ecological data to understand and address conservation dynamics, and issues and I am interested in taking this to the next level by developing novel techniques to achieve more effective and sustainable conservation outcomes in the long-term. I graduated with a BA degree with honors in History and Anthropology (2017) and a MSc in Primate Conservation (Human-Primate Interface) (2018) from Oxford Brookes University in the UK, which gave me an excellent grounding in the methods and application of multidisciplinary approaches. When planning my undergraduate dissertation in 2014, I developed an interest in understanding how cultural practices and beliefs influence peoples’ attitudes and behaviors towards the environment. I have been both conducting research and working in practical conservation roles across West Africa and South-East Asia developing and applying skills in this area ever since. Working in Sierra Leone, I have seen first hand the effects of top-down conservation action on people living in protected areas and the subsequent adverse effects on the habitat and the wildlife. Interestingly, nature often finds ways to adapt and chimpanzees are an excellent example of a species that can flexibly respond to anthropogenic habitat modifications. In my positions as Assistant Conservation Manager in Sierra Leone and Technical Research Advisor in Guinea Bissau, I conducted research on spatio-temporal use of habitats by people and animals, community conservation projects and environmental education programmes, with a particular focus on chimpanzees. I am extremely passionate about building on this research to further investigate and understand local practices and perceptions of wildlife and conservation projects in order to incorporate what people are already doing into conservation approaches. And so, in September 2021 I started a PhD in Anthropology at ISCTE and NOVA FCSH.