Jordan Wheeler

Thesis title:

Can wildfire co-exist sustainably with biodiversity conservation and local livelihoods in protected areas?


One sixth of Earth’s terrestrial surface is a designated protected area. They are important conservation strategies for preserving biodiversity, and they continue to provide livelihood sustenance for many rural and indigenous communities across the global South. However they are under ever-increasing threat from external forces, like fire. In the face of climate change, wildfires are becoming larger, more frequent, and more intense, and subsequently they are causing increasingly severe social and ecological damage. These effects are especially amplified in protected areas, where catastrophic and uncontrollable fires pose significant risks to threatened species and ecosystems and vulnerable human populations. Jordan’s thesis will focus on the interactions between fire, people, and protected areas in the context of coupled social-ecological systems. Her research will explore the hypothesis that wildfire can co-exist sustainably alongside protected areas without negatively impacting the state of biodiversity conservation and contributions to local livelihoods. Her fieldwork, which will take place in Bolivia, will look at how fire travels across protected area boundaries, and its implications for biodiversity conservation and local livelihoods. She will also examine how transboundary differences in fire management policy and practice might influence fire use and fire regime, and how these policies and practices are experienced at community level. She is taking an interdisciplinary approach which will involve a combination of remote sensing, GIS, and various field-based qualitative and participatory research methods. She hopes the research outcomes will be useful for suggesting how fire governance could be better integrated with protected area governance, and adapted to benefit both biodiversity conservation and local community livelihoods.

Social media:


Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires –

Jordan @ King’s People –

First supervisor:

Kate Schreckenberg


9 – Political Ecology, Energy & Environmental Health