In 2019, I graduated with my degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford and was lucky enough to spend time volunteering with a marine conservation organisation in Sabah, Borneo. Here I contributed to long-term coral reef restoration projects, carried out biodiversity surveys and monitored the local population of nesting turtles. This experience completely captivated me. Not only did I want to continue working to protect these fragile ecosystems, but I was also exposed to the vulnerabilities of coastal communities. I learnt how important it is for conservation activities to provide sustainable solutions for local people at the same time as protecting ecosystems.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, I was able to secure a position at the Marine Management Organisation, working on post-EU-Exit fisheries management. Working with diverse stakeholders, this again opened my eyes not only to the threats facing marine & coastal habitats and communities, but also the complexities of marine governance.
With this renewed perspective, I was motivated to return to studying and combine my interests in the Marine Ecosystems & Governance MRes. My research aims to investigate how coral reefs are ‘valued’ by people, in social, cultural and economic contexts, and the perceived benefits and limitations of restoration projects in terms of maintaining or improving this value. This is all with a view to better directing restoration efforts to perceived high value sites.