Lily Zeng

Lily Zeng is a PhD Candidate at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and New York Botanical Garden. She works in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China, an area that contains the world’s northernmost tropical rainforest and China’s richest biodiversity, to look at community-based conservation in sacred forests traditionally protected by local indigenous groups. Her research combines anthropology and ecology to examine the changing relationship between indigenous communities and their sacred forests, the effect on land use practices, and the ecological implications for biodiversity conservation. This work seeks to understand when and how community goals for protecting sacred forests are aligned with conservation goals, which is important for engaging with conservation science and policy-making in a way that can conserve biodiversity while also promoting cultural self-determination. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and National Geographic.

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