ECO2 investigates, analyses, and tests key ideas for integrating ecology and socio-economics and the possibilities for convivial conservation using distinct cases in Egypt, a country where Anthropocene pressures have become extreme in many places. Egypt, as is well known, completely depends on one major resource, the River Nile, but intensifying land-use change and other anthropogenic pressures render the possibilities for long-term sustainable forms of development and conservation increasingly problematic. By combining the expertise from different disciplines across the different natural and social sciences, ECO2 will deliver new knowledge based on primary research and use this to investigate ideas related to different convivial conservation and development trajectories in three important cases along the Nile and its wetlands.

We study the decisions animals and humans make by focussing behaviour and ecology of wetland birds and crocodiles in their socio-economic contexts using three different cases, (1) The Nile Delta and Fayoum, (2) the Nile South of Cairo and (3) Lake Nasser. Within and across these cases, several PhD projects address questions on the network and usage of natural and artificial wetlands by birds (and crocodiles) in relation to the socio-economic context of stakeholders such as hunters, fishermen and eco-tourism, and by this integrate decisions animals make with decisions humans make. Moreover, by building (on) a strong interdisciplinary network combining researchers, governmental and non-government organisations and local communities, ECO2 will ensure long-term continuity and a large impact for capacity building to improve conservation and development in an integrated framework in Egypt for a long time to come.

Finally, due to the fact that Egypt represents a classic case of the problems associated with the high pressures of the Anthropocene, we are convinced that knowledge from this project will not only be of relevance to other countries along the Nile, but also beyond.

EC02 is a collaboration between the following chair groups at Wageningen University:

  • Sociology of Development and Change (SDC)
  • Aquaculture and Fisheries (AFI)
  • Behavioural Ecology (BHE)
  • Development Economics (DEC)
  • Laboratory of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing (GRS)
  • Resource Ecology (REG)
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ECO2 is part of the larger research framework on Convivial Conservation.

Convivial conservation draws inspiration from many promising examples of collectives and individuals doing conservation differently and holistically. Fundamentally, it sees conservation as something that is part and parcel of a broader model of development, and hence if this model of development is unsustainable, so will be conservation. Convivial conservation is therefore a struggle for a more equal and sustainable model of development in the 21st century, and this is what connects it to many similar struggles and movements around the world.

In order to learn from and contribute to these struggles and practices about doing conservation differently, a growing number of research projects and initiatives have recently started. The idea is to build on these examples to develop a general conservation model embodying more convivial principles both within these sites and elsewhere.

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