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Environmental Futures

The Environmental Futures Project undertakes rigorous independent social science research that forms the basis for sound evidence-based interventions to reduce wildlife trafficking and biodiversity crimes. 

The focus is on the governance (understood as the shaping of the flow of events) of the ecosystems of illegal economies by a wide variety of nodes — state and non-state, public-private, legal-illegal.  Understanding the governance of safety and security is thus the point of departure, with a specific focus on illegal wildlife economies and the ecosystems that support them, as well as their intersections with legal economies. Annette Hübschle, a senior research fellow, is leading the project together with Clifford Shearing.

The key research question asks how illegal and legal global wildlife economies operate. Based on our empirical research including fieldwork in affected local and indigenous communities, we analyse which trades and activities are beneficial or damaging to ecological systems. Termed “pragmatic conservation”, our evidence-based interventions identify the most appropriate leverage points to disrupt illegal wildlife economies and strengthen legal ones. We working towards a just and equitable conservation model that recognises local communities as fulcrum institutions.

                 

Research projects:

  • TRANSFORM project: Trafficking transformations: objects as agents in transnational criminal networks. European Research Council starting grant to study how objects influence criminal networks, with a particular focus on objects such as antiquities, fossils, and rare and collectable wildlife.
  • Pragmatic conservation: Design principles for wildlife conservation in the new post-covid-19 world
  • The social economy of poaching: Research on how local communities are incentivised to participate in illegal and legal wildlife economies
  • Community perceptions of conservation stakeholders and vice versa in the Greater Kruger: a study on community perceptions, attitudes and beliefs as to whether their relationship with conservation stakeholders is improving
  • Rural crime perception survey: Research documenting safety and security concerns of rural citizens living near protected areas
  • Policing of/through flows: Research into fluid interfaces between legality and illegality in wildlife supply networks
  • Contested illegality: Unpacking legality/illegality and legitimacy/illegitimacy in illicit economies
  • Wildlife poisoning in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area: a baseline study on the drivers of wildlife poisoning and impacts on rural communities
  • The illegal rhino horn market: A multi-sited ethnography following rhino horn from the source to the market
  • Valuation in illegal markets: on-going research into consumption, demand and valuation in illegal (wildlife) economies
  • Nodal governance: On-going research into the role of ‘upperworld’ actors in illicit economies, including industry actors, the transport, banking and import-export sectors
  • Understanding the harm landscapes of the 21st century: Exploratory research into harm landscapes associated with ecological and environmental damage, water security and climate change and respective ecosystems of support

The link to the TRANSFORM website is here: https://traffickingtransformations.org

Annette Hubschle is a CI on a €1.5 million European Research Council starting grant to study how objects influence criminal networks, with a particular focus on objects such as antiquities, fossils, and rare and collectable wildlife.  Trafficking transformations: objects as agents in transnational criminal networks’ is the title of the project is led by Dr Donna Yates, University of Maastricht.

 Access all Annette Hübschle's publications on researchgate >>>>