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East-West Center Research Program Seminar

April 8, 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Mānoa Campus, East-West Center, Burns Hall Room 3012

Geographies of Conservation in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador

Dr. Laura Brewington

Postdoctoral Researcher, Center for Galapagos Studies
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Monday, April 8, 2013 1–2 p.m.
John A. Burns Hall, Room 3012 (3rd floor)

The Galapagos Islands are an ideal setting for integrated human-environment studies. The archipelago’s unique characteristics, however, are increasingly threatened by urban development, resource extraction, species invasions, and climate change.

In this presentation Dr. Brewington will describe the results of her work derived from six years of applied conservation in Galapagos, with a focus on three approaches to research across geographic and temporal scales. The first is a bottom-up approach to stakeholder engagement and active participation in research design and analysis, through a study of invasive species management in an agricultural zone and the surrounding protected area. Priority is given to local objectives and constraints, with positive implications for adaptive land management by land owners and national park employees.

The second project details a long-term approach to infrastructure development within the Galapagos inspection and quarantine system, with an emphasis on addressing existing structural problems within the cargo shipping system, fomenting political change at the regional and national levels, and collaborating across institutions to improve island biosecurity. Training courses for cargo inspectors and community education about the risks associated with imported goods link the users to the system, stimulating ongoing dialogue and project longevity. Dr. Brewington will conclude with an overview of her recent postdoctoral work, which takes a local-to-global perspective on characterizing shoreline vulnerability to climate change and anthropogenic disturbances throughout the archipelago. In the Galapagos Islands, as well as other similar settings worldwide, data gathering and monitoring are needed at multiple scales to understand the processes and phenomena that cross disciplinary boundaries, especially between nature and society.

Laura Brewington is a postdoctoral researcher with the Center for Galapagos Studies at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, working in conservation research and environmental policy in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Prior to returning to graduate school, she worked as a Biostatistician on NIH-funded studies linking environmental pollution and human health. Her interests are interdisciplinary, spanning the quantitative, spatial, and social sciences, and her dissertation focused on species invasions, agriculture, and participatory remote sensing. After she finished her PhD in Geography in 2011, she moved to the Galapagos to collaborate with WildAid, Inc. and the Galapagos Inspection and Quarantine Agency. In 2012 she returned to North Carolina to continue research and outreach through the Galapagos Science Center based on San Cristobal Island. Currently, she’s involved with the following projects: 1) Social dynamics of environmental change; 2) Marine reserve policy and management; 3) Shoreline vulnerability and risk assessment.

Event Sponsor
East-West Center Research Program, Mānoa Campus

More Information
Victoria Keener, (808) 944-7220,

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