PhD Candidate - ENVISION DTP Funded.
I am researching the environmental trade-offs of mining in Madagascar. Madagascar is endowed with extensive and varied mineral resources which so far remain relatively untapped. It is also considered one of the world's hottest biodiversity hotspots, home to an exceptional variety of flora and fauna with extremely high rates of endemism, much of which is confined to the ever-dwindling forests. There is substantial overlap between Madagascar's mineral resources and its biological wealth which raises the dilemma - how can Madagascar use its mineral wealth to develop without trading-off biodiversity?
I will investigate this question by evaluating the benefits and environmental impacts of different forms of mining in Madagascar (large-scale industrial, small-scale formal and informal artisanal) in an attempt to determine which forms of mining could yield the greatest benefits for the least environmental costs. I will begin by evaluating the ability of one of the largest industrial mines in Madagascar to achieve no net loss of biodiversity through application of the mitigation hierarchy and biodiversity offsetting. I will then consider the impacts (positive and negative) of a small-scale formal gemstone mine with a strong ethical focus and an earlier artisanal gem rush on the same site. Finally I will assess the validity of media reports that artisanal gem rushes within the Eastern rainforests led to extensive deforestation and illegal bushmeat hunting.
The research will span the environmental and social sciences, although focussing mostly on the former, and integrate both primary and secondary sources of data. Primary data will be obtained through fieldwork and analysis of satellite imagery. The project will involve in-depth use of Geographical Information Systems and R statistical software.