Having graduated with a BSc in Biology from the University of Leeds and an M.Phil in Biological Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, I’m now a PhD researcher at University College London, becoming increasingly fascinated by the intersection between indigenous knowledge & rights and biodiversity conservation.
My research within the Extreme Citizen Science Research Group (ExCiteS) at University College London (UCL) is based on the heightening evidence that local and indigenous communities are the best protectors of biodiversity. Unfortunately, conservation struggles to engage with traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous worldviews, or in some cases outright dismisses such knowledge systems in favour of Western approaches. Now clear from recent international biodiversity reports and insights from human rights defenders, this Eurocentric technique of ‘top-down’ conservation is not going well: biodiversity continues to decline and indigenous and social rights are being abused in the process.
The research explores an alternative approach – biocultural conservation – whereby local worldviews, knowledge, and concerns lead the process. In southern Cameroon, where the research is centred, Extreme Citizen Science projects are being established alongside Baka hunter-gatherer peoples and neighbouring farming villages to report injustices of wildlife crime, monitor animal abundance and distribution, and map resources and land important to local people. I am an anthropologist and will also be conducting long-term ethnography in Baka villages to understand indigenous conceptions of nature, conservation, and their future involvement.
This approach aims to demonstrate that indigenous-led conservation is not only viable, but necessary to achieve genuinely sustainable biodiversity conservation.
> Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples): Cornered by Protected Areas
> Michalis Vitos (Developer, ExCiteS UCL): Taking Participatory Citizen Science to Extremes
> Jerome Lewis (Anthropology, UCL; Co-director ExCiteS): ‘Our Lives Have Turned Upside Down! And Nobody Cares’
> Michael Gavin (Colorado State University): Effective Biodiversity Conservation Requires Dynamic, Pluralistic, Partnership-Based Approaches
The older part of this site is dedicated to the incredible opportunity I had to work with Prof John Parkington at the University of Cape Town for a year, with the aim of trying to reveal the behaviour and ecology of early humans of the Middle Stone Age (~300,000-30,000 years ago), as well as some later periods. The Middle Stone Age is exceptionally important and interesting because our species, Homo sapiens, evolved in this time (~200,000 years ago), and the first evidence of abstract thought, symbolic behaviour and art occurs here. By excavating and analysing animal bones, shellfish remains, lithics (stone tools) and other human-made objects found in ancient hangout spots around the Western Cape (caves and rock shelters), we are revealing a tiny piece in the vast picture of how these early humans not only survived, but evolved massive brains, leading to art, music, agriculture, iPhones, and you reading this sentence. Choose the Archaeology category on the right to read these posts.
Follow the research here
LinkedIn: Simon Hoyte