Neville Shulman Awards
The next level of capacity development.
Uzo Ejimadu of Nigeria says it was a privilege to work alongside dedicated research fellows. His award helped him establish his own survey of manatee.
For over a decade, Earthwatch's Capacity Development Programme has delivered relevant and vital conservation research training through hands on learning opportunities on Earthwatch projects. Through our training grants programme we have been able to develop those skills further and develop a number of those learners into project leaders.
Now, thanks to the kind support of Neville Shulman CBE, Earthwatch is able to offer emerging scientists the opportunity to implement an environmental research or education based project from proposal to completion that will help participants to:
- Grow their skill set and gain necessary experience in conservation research
- Develop successful research proposals to obtain funding and gain report writing experience
- Plan and coordinate scientific research expeditions
- Conduct research, adding to the knowledge base on urgent environmental issues
- Enhance, educate and engage local communities
In 2010 the Neville Shulman Earthwatch awards selected six emerging scientists to receive grants that will support field research and conservation activities in some of the world’s most important and threatened habitats. This year two large grants of £4,000 were awarded to Dr. Anilkumar Hedge from India and Mr. Kumara Marappulluge from Sri Lanka. We’ve caught up with them after six months to find out how their research is progressing.
Students from Sirsi Arts & Science Collage conducting a survey with local residents
Anilkumar’s project explores the link between firewood extraction and forest degradation in the Western Ghats region of India. It is paramount for the long-term sustainability of this region that a balance is struck between the needs of local communities and preservation of natural forests. Anilkumar’s project focuses on the village of Togaralli where preliminary surveys have established that 95% of the community depend on firewood for cooking, heating bath water and processing agricultural products. Anilkumar believes that the adoption of sustainable rural technologies, such as fuel efficient wood burning stoves, has an important role to play in reducing anthropogenic pressure in this region. Following discussions with the village committee and individual families he has now drawn up a list of 42 homes where fuel efficient stoves will be installed, dramatically reducing their wood consumption.
Kumara’s project is an important continuation of Earthwatch research in Sri Lanka which aims to fill the gap in current understanding regarding the most appropriate density at which to restore mangrove habitat. This award will allow Kumara to explore the on-going health of mangroves planted three years ago, monitoring a number of important characteristics including the recruitment of biodiversity, changes in soil properties and fixation of carbon. Kumara’s project utilises Earthwatch’s proven model of citizen science by engaging local residents, students and young people to help him collect his research data. This also gives him the opportunity to promote the value of healthy mangrove habitats within the community, helping to secure a sustainable future for this important habitat.
2009/10 Neville Shulman Award Winner
Juliana Binti Senawi, Malaysia
Nominated and supported by Dr Tigga Kingston
Project: Investigating the relationships between cranial morphology, bite performance and diet within insectivorous bats from undisturbed tropical rainforest and bats from disturbed habitats in the surrounding landscape.
Juliana's research focused on examining the relationship between cranial morphology (head size), bite performance and diet from at least 20 species of insectivorous bats from established bat groups within the undisturbed rainforest in KWR (Krau Wildlife Reserve), Pahang. She has also investigated the relationships between and within the smaller and less diverse bat groups found in the areas surrounding KWR, which include forest fragments; oil palm, rubber and acacia plantations; and local croplands.
She hopes to explain the patterns in resource use among bat species by studying differences in each species' performance through ecomorphological analysis (the study of the effect of the environment on the morphology of organisms).
So far, Juliana has found a highly significant relationship between bite force and size across all species and used her Neville Shulman Award to join the 15th International Bat Research Conference in Prague, Czech Republic where she presented her results to date and was able to discuss research techniques and share ideas with other bat scientists from around the world.
Julia says that, "Malaysia's rainforests are home to the greatest diversity of bat species in the world, with over 70 species recorded at a single location in Krau Wildlife Reserve. This outstanding diversity is likely achieved through an intricate partitioning of the available resources within the habitat and I hope that my project will reveal more about these links within this amazing environment".
2008/09 Neville Shulman Award Winner
Helena Francourt, Seychelles
Nominated and supported by SNPA (Seychelles National Park Authority)
Project: Effectiveness of Marine Parks for conserving biodiversity
Helena's project entailed a detailed literature review and collation of existing data on multiple species of different trophic levels. It focused on data on the abundance of fish species, coral cover, algal cover, sponge cover and sea urchin density in closed and open areas of the Seychelles. The key objective of which was to ascertain whether changes have occurred within a Marine National Park (MNP) over time and to establish a baseline level of understanding of the status of Marine National Parks for future, effective management.
This project was a vital step to initiating a review of the status of protected areas in Seychelles and the resulting archive system displays base maps and data never previously brought together that will be key in future research and development in the Seychelles. A project so successful it is now considered an ongoing project in the Research Department of the Marine Parks Authority.
"Although I found the project very challenging, I feel that it has shaped me to become a more independent and foreseeing researcher, able to anticipate major challenges and changes with respect to timelines, proposals and plans."
Neville Shulman CBE is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Fellow of the Explorers Club, member of the Scientific Exploration Society and of the Bhutan Society. He is Director of the British International Theatre Institute and Vice Chair of the UK-UNESCO Culture Committee.
Having travelled extensively throughout the world, Neville supports a number of worthy charities and causes, twice undertaking charitable expeditions to Ecuador. He is an author, journalist and lecturer on philosophy, mountaineering and exploration, and is immensely passionate about the significance of science in protecting the environment.