Professor Lisa Naughton has been selected to receive a UW–Madison Vilas Research Investigator Award. The award provides $30,000 of funding for research assistants or project assistants for the 2015-2016 academic year. Naughton’s research focuses on biodiversity conservation in developing countries, social conflict and land use around protected areas, land tenure and property rights, and attitudes toward wildlife in conservation in human-dominated landscapes.
Lisa will use the Vilas award to advance a co-authored publication, Forest Conservation in Crowded Landscapes – Land use trends around national parks in the Albertine Rift, with graduate students Niwaeli Kimambo (M.S.) and Jess L’Roe (Ph.D.). The publication is based on their research in East Africa.
About the research: Africa’s Albertine Rift is home to globally significant biodiversity, including endangered primates such as mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. It is also one of Africa’s most densely settled regions where most forest has been cleared outside national parks. The team’s work examines the impact of growing land scarcity on forests and rural communities neighboring two key national parks, Kibale (Uganda) and Rungwe Mountains (Tanzania). At both sites they are gathering data on land ownership, forest clearing, and tree planting. Apparently new land markets have not only altered how the local poor use forests, but also who owns the land. They have also found unexpected forest expansion at some park edges where more affluent individuals are buying land at the park edge as an investment and planting trees (mainly pine and eucalyptus). These tree plantations are species-poor but can serve as ‘corridors’ for wildlife movement. Their research will help guide conservation interventions and demonstrate the impact of land markets, wage income opportunities and remittances on biodiversity and local livelihoods.