Christina Perella

Graduate Student | Center for Geospatial Analytics | North Carolina State University

2022 - 2023 Global Change Fellow

Statement of purpose:

I am interested in utilizing quantitative methods to explore topics such as landscape ecology, the effectiveness of protected areas, and management of multi-use landscapes, which is hugely influenced by the opportunities I had to study abroad as an undergraduate. As a volunteer for the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program, a collaborative research program founded at Drexel University in partnership with the National University of Equatorial Guinea, I contributed to a white paper for a conservation symposium with the goal of forming a management plan for the Gran Caldera Scientific Reserve (GCSR), one of two protected areas on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. Looking into what constitutes a management plan and the history of Bioko’s protected areas, I learned that there is minimal enforcement of regulations in these areas despite their protected status, making them ‘paper parks.’ As a result, bushmeat hunting, agriculture, logging, and the construction of a road bisecting the GCSR have impacted Bioko’s wildlife. When I got the chance to study abroad in Bioko, spending several weeks in the capital city before heading to the GCSR for a month-long expedition, I was able to see for myself the protected area I had been writing about and get to know some of the people who call Bioko home. Two years later, I had another opportunity to visit a protected area, Mbam et Djerem National Park, during a three-week study abroad trip to Cameroon with the Central African Biodiversity Alliance. Getting this taste of translating science into policy and spending time in these places made me want to understand the social and conservation outcomes of protected areas and the complex relationships between conservation goals and the communities that depend on the land and resources.

Description of research:

As a PhD candidate in the Center for Geospatial Analytics under the dual advising of Dr. Adam Terando and Dr. Jelena Vukomanovic, I hope to explore the ecological and social impacts of urban growth and land use change, with a particular focus on protected areas and multi-use landscapes. As part of this work, I will be employing participatory methods to engage stakeholders and develop tools to help communities envision and implement smart and equitable decisions about land use and climate adaptation. Overall, I would like to try to answer questions such as: how do we quantify connectivity across landscapes and make responsible recommendations, and what makes protected areas or proposed connectivity networks successful or unsuccessful in achieving their desired conservation and social outcomes?

Contact Information:

Email: cdperell@ncsu.edu

Faculty Advisor:

Adam Terando (Center for Geospatial Analytics, NCSU) and Jelena Vukomanovic (Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, NCSU)