PhD Defence Michiel van den Bergh

On 23 November at 16:15 (sharp), Michiel van den Bergh will defend his dissertation Bridging the gap between bird conservation and sustainable development. Perceptions and participation of rural people in Burkina Faso’s Sahel region at Leiden University.

The links between conservation and livelihood concerns remain much debated, and there is no agreement about the degree to which these concerns are linked, and how they should be tackled together. The main objectives of this study are to uncover the local values of birds, the environment and conservation for rural people in Burkina Faso’s Sahel region, and to increase insights into interventions that aim to achieve integrated (migrant bird) conservation and sustainable development objectives in this area. By focusing on issues like local perceptions, local participation, local institutional arrangements and the role of birds, this study adds new insights to the existing literature and knowledge. The study demonstrates that both birds and the environment are valued in many ways and are strongly linked with local livelihoods. At the same time, the study shows that serious environmental problems exist, and that both local livelihoods and birds are negatively impacted. This has created conservation incentives among the local population, which is a major contributing factor for conservation organizations seeking local motivation and participation to combat environmental issues. In fact, the study provides a strong argument for the need to increase local participation, and demonstrates several ways to do so. Read the summary of Michiel's dissertation.

Michiel van den Bergh (1983) obtained his master’s degree in Human Geography from the University of Amsterdam (2009). In addition, he completed several conservation-related courses at the Wilfrid Laurier University (2006) and two research courses at the Utrecht University (2011). Michiel joined the ASCL in 2011 and was the institute’s PhD Representative from 2012 to 2015. In that same period, Michiel published a book and several articles in peer-reviewed journals, was co-director of the documentary ‘Living on the Edge’, and project leader of the conservation-golf programme ‘Committed to Birds’. Currently, Michiel is working as North Sea programme manager at the WWF.

Promoters: Prof. Ton Dietz and Dr Dick Foeken (ASCL, Leiden University)

Venue: Academy building.

Date, time and location

23 November 2016