Despite the significant challenges and obstacles to fieldwork during the past 12 months, a small number of researchers funded by our grants programme have been able to go into the field, with adaptations to allow their work to continue in a safe and responsible manner.
Lydia Katsis, a PhD student at the University of Southampton, received one of this year’s Dudley Stamp Memorial Awards to support her fieldwork exploring the potential for combining data on acoustic landscapes with anti-poaching patrol data, to improve anti-poaching patrol design and evaluation in the tropical forests of Belize.
She said: “I have just returned from a four-month fieldwork season in Belize, where I was deploying acoustic sensors in protected areas to monitor hunting pressure. My fieldwork generally adapted well to covid-secure behaviour. Being based in a remote location throughout my time in Belize, my social contacts were very limited, and social interactions almost exclusively occurred outdoors in spacious areas. The work largely consisted of walking long distances in remote areas with two to three people to reach sensor deployment locations deep in the forest.
“It was certainly stressful trying to make fieldwork plans during continually changing circumstances laden with uncertainty, however I was exceptionally lucky to get out into the field, and it highlighted to me the importance of maximising the field season and collecting as much data as possible. I am incredibly grateful for the support from my collaborators, Panthera and Ya’axché Conservation Trust, and to the Society for supporting my fieldwork during this challenging time.”
Dr Elia Apostolopoulou, from the University of Cambridge, received an Environment and Sustainability Research Grant for her research which focuses on the right to energy justice in Greece. This has involved exploring the public acceptance of different projects, ranging from governmental plans for oil and gas exploration to community energy projects.
She said: “So far I have conducted interviews in Athens with policymakers and representatives of environmental NGOs as well as ethnographic research with local community members in selected areas in Greece where major conflicts around renewable energy have emerged. It has not been possible so far to conduct research in the Ionian Islands and Fournoi because of their distance from Athens and the restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the selection of the case studies also reflects recent developments. In particular, the most important struggles for energy justice in Greece in the last few months concern the construction of wind farms across the country.
“All discussions have been conducted outdoors keeping at least a two metre distance and wearing face masks. During June, I am planning to organise workshops in the most important case studies and, hopefully, participate in community meetings. I have already participated in two community meetings that have been held virtually.”
Elia’s project is also supported by the SUN Institute Environment & Economics.
See the full list of projects supported so far this year.
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