The Biodiversity Fellows Programme at ICCS
Generously supported by Merton College, University of Oxford.
One of the aims of the ICCS group is to improve engagement between researchers, conservation practitioners in the international and local NGO sectors, and businesses developing and implementing corporate biodiversity strategies, in order that scientific research is informed by, and meaningful for, real-world conservation issues.
There is a widely recognised problem of a mismatch between academic research and conservation practice, which we are keen to bridge. Conservation NGOs and businesses contain many highly skilled individuals who have substantial experience in implementing conservation on the ground, and often have collected excellent datasets which could contribute to the academic evidence base on policy effectiveness. However, often they do not have the time, technical skills or academic environment within which to write these datasets up for publication. To address this issue, ICCS offers a unique initiative in its Biodiversity Fellows Programme.
The programme offers NGO or business employees working on biodiversity conservation the chance to spend up to 3 months with the ICCS group at the University of Oxford, writing papers, developing ideas or writing grant proposals. The Fellow will be encouraged to take part in a range of valuable interactions with students (undergraduate and post-graduate) and potential donors. For example, through offering reading groups relating to their subject area, evening talks or individual guidance to students wishing to learn more about how to approach the real-world issues of biodiversity conservation worldwide. The Fellows will be encouraged to host or take part in ICCS workshops and technical events.
Who should apply?
We are targeting people who we feel would particularly benefit from this scheme. We particularly welcome applications from developing country nationals. If you are a senior member of staff, who would benefit from the opportunities offered by stepping away from your NGO environment and commitments for a short period of time, to develop new strategic approaches, write up their ideas, or build partnerships, then this scheme may be right for you. Alternatively, if you are at a relatively early stage in your career, and would benefit from the academic possibilities offered by the University of Oxford and the ICCS group you are also particularly welcome to apply. Particularly if you would benefit from learning new skills, analysing and writing up your datasets, and building an international network.
Dates: January-April 2017
What are your plans while you are here at Oxford?
I wish to concentrate my research efforts on biodiversity offsetting and biodiversity-related business risks. How robust are the metrics used for measuring impacts and sizing offsets? Are businesses effectively utilizing the concept of ‘no go areas’ to pre-empt and avoid siting-related biodiversity risks? These are a few questions that I hope to answer during my fellowship.
As a young conservationist, working with the ICCS team as a Biodiversity Fellow was a great opportunity. Being among a team of people from different disciplines and professions has opened my eyes to different perspectives on wildlife conservation. the fellowship has not only improved my knowledge and understanding of different ways to tackle conservation challenges but also given me a set of new skills, including the making of short documentaries, statistics, research writing and publishing.
The opportunity to give talks about my work in different UK universities and the positive feedback and suggestions that I received have confirmed for me the importance of my projects. This opportunity also enabled me to build my network through meeting funders, and different leaders in conservation who inspired and motivated me to continue doing the great work despite the existing conservation challenges.
In a nutshell, the knowledge and skills that I have acquired during my ICCS fellowship at Oxford University have both improved my project management skills and empowered my sense of optimism regarding youth conservation programmes in Africa such as my VIMA project.
This was highly successful from many viewpoints. The primary aim was to focus on writing a paper on wildlife trade: for a species in demand in trade, under what conditions is a trade ban, or a sustainable trade, more likely to result in conservation of the species?
ICCS was an ideal place to be writing this, given the research interest and support from its Director and others in the research group, as well as the full facilities of the university library. The entire ICCS team was extremely hospitable and welcoming, and it was fun to be part of the group and learn about their work, participate with them in the Interdisciplinary Conservation Network (ICN) graduate student conference, as well as enjoying social events with them such as punting!
Being a Fellow at Merton College during the time was also extremely special, and led to some fascinating over-meal discussions with people from other disciplines. Finally, living right in the middle of Oxford allowed me to hear much magnificent music throughout the visit, from frequent choral evensongs and college chamber recitals to wonderful orchestral concerts in the Sheldonian.
Many thanks indeed to Prof. E.J. Milner-Gulland and Carlyn Samuel for making it happen and all of their support, and to all at ICCS for making it so productive and enjoyable.
As a Biodiversity Research Fellow, I was very happy to share and discuss my research into the Ploughshare tortoise in Madagascar with all the ICCS members, while learning many new things. Being in Oxford University gave me opportunities to access many resources I wouldn’t have otherwise had access to, like published papers, libraries and courses.
It was a really valuable experience to be able to meet and speak with students, post-docs, lecturers and professors who are leaders in their field, yet so forthcoming in sharing their knowledge with me. They were all so interested in my research and always willing and able to give me great input, that it has really inspired me to do more work in the biodiversity conservation field when I get home!
I also had the opportunity to improve my statistics, data analysis and writing skills while in Oxford; things that you probably have taken courses in before, but it is always good to refresh your knowledge, learn about the latest developments and adapt with evolving technology and science.
I loved being able to attend such a wide variety of seminars and talks, where I learnt about what other researchers are doing and how I can apply their methods to my own work.
To summarise; Biodiversity Conservation is not just about in-situ actions or fieldwork, but about building on your knowledge and experiences, and the Research fellowship with ICCS is one of the best ways I can think of for doing that.
Applications for the Autumn 2017 Fellowships will open in April.
Please check-back soon