Project proposal details

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Project title
Law Enforcement Monitoring in theory and practice
Contact name
Dr Anthony Dancer
Project based at
Zoological Society of London
Project description
Law Enforcement Monitoring (LEM) tools, such as SMART (Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool), are increasingly used to fill critical monitoring gaps in Protected Areas (PAs) globally. In theory, LEM tools can help to reduce illegal activity in PAs, such as poaching, by facilitating gathering of data by park rangers, and providing a platform for using this information to inform adaptive management of enforcement. In practice, it is unclear whether use of LEM is reducing wildlife crime, impeded by limited understanding of where, how and in what contexts such tools are implemented. SMART, for example, is implemented in in >765 PAs in >60 countries globally, but whether site managers are using the tool as intended by SMART’s developers is largely unknown, and other factors, such as management objective, governance and primary threats, are similarly opaque.

This project will inform the evaluation and future deployment of SMART by conducting a intervention-wide segmentation study of all PAs globally in which SMART is implemented. The student will liaise with representatives of the nine international conservation agencies, which together comprise the SMART Partnership, to (i) clarify the nature of SMART implementation in sites around the world, (ii) identify key segmentation criteria, and (iii) apply the criteria to a list of all extant sites. Anticipated project outputs include a database of SMART sites globally and associated characteristics, and analysis of variation in these factors across sites. The project will provide the student with expertise in conservation impact evaluation, insights into the practicalities of PA management, and an opportunity to collaborate with senior management from nine major conservation organisations.

Key references:

Dancer, A. (2019) On the evaluation, monitoring and management of law enforcement patrols in protected areas (PhD thesis). University College London, London, UK.
Hötte, M., Kolodin, I., Bereznuk, S., Slaght, J., Kerley, L., Soutyrina, S., … Miquelle, D. (2016) ‘Indicators of success for smart law enforcement in protected areas: A case study for Russian Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) reserves’, Integrative Zoology.
Ferraro, P. and Pressey, R. (2015) ‘Measuring the difference made by conservation initiatives: Protected areas and their environmental and social impacts’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
Date uploaded
2019-11-20

Project proposal limitations

The project proposer has indicated that there are some limitations to the availability of this project. It may only be available at certain times of year or suit a specific project length. It may also need skills taught to students on a particular course or courses.

Research project proposals are usually part of an active research programme. If supervisors have stated limitations to a proposal, then they are unlikely to have any flexibility. If you are very interested in the topic but have problems with the stated limitations, the supervisor may still be happy to talk to you about other options around the proposal, but you should not expect that any alternative arrangements can be made.

Project length limitations
3.5 months
Available date limitations
Winter (January), Spring (April-May)
Suitable for
Ecology Evolution and Conservation