Dr Freya A. V. St John
Dr Freya A. V. St. John
Lecturer in Conservation Science
Thoday Building, room G1
Tel: 01248 388295 (from UK)
+44 1248 388295 (international)
- Understanding illegal resource use
- Conservation conflicts
- Conservation and human wellbeing
Before undertaking her PhD in understanding illegal resource use, Freya worked as a conservation practitioner, largely in Greece and Tanzania for eight years. This sparked her interest in interdisciplinary research that seeks to understand people and their interactions with the natural world.
Freya is interested in understanding the links between human behaviour, wellbeing and conservation. Much of her research focuses on conservation conflict together with investigating the prevalence and drivers of peoples’ involvement in unlawful resource extraction. However, gathering robust data on rule-breaking directly from people is challenging. For this reason Freya’s work includes testing cutting-edge social science techniques for asking people sensitive questions. She also draws on disciplines such as development studies, social and cognitive psychology and criminology in order to strengthen levels of understanding on what drives conservation rule-breaking and the differing levels of tolerance people exhibit for co-existing with wildlife.
Freya’s group work on various issues including the conservation and livelihood implications of wild meat hunting and the social, heritage and economic value of intertidal collection and beach gathering activities.
Elizabeth Morris-Webb: Intertidal collection and beach gathering, School of Ocean Sciences & SENRGy, Bangor University.
Sorrell Jones: The influence of risk on patterns of illegal activity in a hunted landscape in West Liberia. Royal Holloway University of London (Dr Sarah Papworth), Edinburgh University (Dr Aidan Keane), Bangor University (Dr Freya St. John), RSPB (Dr Juliette Vickery)
- Expanding the role of social science in conservation through an engagement with philosophy, methodology and methodsMoon, K, Blackman, DA, Adams, VM, Colvin, RM, Davila, F, Evans, M, Januchowski-Hartley, SR, Bennett, NJ, Dickinson, H, Sandbrook, C, Sherren, K, St John, FAV, van Kerkhoff, L & Wyborn, C 2019, 'Expanding the role of social science in conservation through an engagement with philosophy, methodology and methods' Methods in Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.13126
- Audience segmentation to improve the targeting of hunters by conservation interventions around Gola forest, LiberiaJones, S, Keane, A, St John, FAV, Vickery, J & Papworth, S 2018, 'Audience segmentation to improve the targeting of hunters by conservation interventions around Gola forest, Liberia' Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13275
- Asking sensitive questions using the Unmatched Count Technique: Applications and guidelines for conservationHinsley, A, Keane, A, St John, FAV & Nuno, A 2018, 'Asking sensitive questions using the Unmatched Count Technique: Applications and guidelines for conservation' Methods in Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.13137
- Value diversity and conservation conflict: Lessons from the management of red grouse and hen harriers in EnglandSt John, FAV, Steadman, J, Austen, G & Redpath, SM 2018, 'Value diversity and conservation conflict: Lessons from the management of red grouse and hen harriers in England' People and Nature. DOI: 10.1002/pan3.5
- Tolerating tigers: Gaining local and spiritual perspectives on human-tiger interactions in SumatraMcKay, J, St John, FAV, Harihar, A, Martyr, D, Leader-Williams, N, Milliyanawati, B, Agustin, I, Anggriawan, Y, Karlina, K, Kartika, K, Mangunjaya, F, Struebig, M & Linkie, M 2018, 'Tolerating tigers: Gaining local and spiritual perspectives on human-tiger interactions in Sumatra' PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0201447
- Wildlife supply chains in Madagascar from local collection to global exportRobinson, J, Fraser, I, St John, FAV, Randrianantoandro, J, Andriantsimanarilafy, R, Razafimanahaka, JH, Griffiths, RA & Roberts, DL 2018, 'Wildlife supply chains in Madagascar from local collection to global export' Biological Conservation, vol. 226, pp. 144-152. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.07.027
- Using consumer preferences to characterize the trade of wild‐collected ornamental orchids in ChinaWilliams, S, Gale, S, Hinsley, A, Gao, J & St John, FAV 2018, 'Using consumer preferences to characterize the trade of wild‐collected ornamental orchids in China' Conservation Letters, vol. 11, no. 5, e12569. DOI: 10.1111/conl.12569
- Addressing human-tiger conflict using socio-ecological information on tolerance and riskStruebig, MJ, Linkie, M, Deere, NJ, Martyr, DJ, Milliyanawati, B, Faulkner, SC, Le Comber, SC, Mangunjaya, FM, Leader-Williams, N, McKay, JE & St John, FAV 2018, 'Addressing human-tiger conflict using socio-ecological information on tolerance and risk' Nature Communications, vol. 9, 3455. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05983-y
- Intention to kill: Tolerance and illegal persecution of Sumatran tigers and sympatric speciesSt John, FAV, Linkie, M, Martyr, D, Milliyanawati, B, McKay, J, Mangunjaya, F, Leader-Williams, N & Struebig, M 2018, 'Intention to kill: Tolerance and illegal persecution of Sumatran tigers and sympatric species' Conservation Letters.
- Using consumer preferences to characterise the trade of wild-collected ornamental orchids in ChinaWilliams, S, Gale, S, Hinsley, A, Gao, J & St John, FAV 2018, 'Using consumer preferences to characterise the trade of wild-collected ornamental orchids in China' Conservation Letters.
- A spatially integrated framework for assessing socio-ecological drivers of carnivore declineGálvez, N, Guillera-Arroita, G, St John, FAV, Schüttler, E, MacDonald, D & Davies, Z 2018, 'A spatially integrated framework for assessing socio-ecological drivers of carnivore decline' Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 55, no. 3, pp. 1393-1405. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13072
- Practitioner and scientist perceptions of successful amphibian conservationMeredith, HMR, St John, FAV, Collen, B, Black, SA & Griffiths, RA 2018, 'Practitioner and scientist perceptions of successful amphibian conservation' Conservation Biology, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 366-375. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13005
- Publishing social science research in Conservation Biology to move beyond biologyTeel, TL, Anderson, CB, Burgman, MA, Cinner, J, Clark, D, Estevez, RA, Jones, JPG, McClanahan, TR, Reed, MS, Sandbrook, C & St John, FAV 2018, 'Publishing social science research in Conservation Biology to move beyond biology' Conservation Biology, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 6-8. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13059
- Supplying the wildlife trade as a livelihood strategy in a biodiversity hotspotRobinson, J, Griffiths, R, Fraser, I, Raharimalala, J, Roberts, D & St John, FAV 2017, 'Supplying the wildlife trade as a livelihood strategy in a biodiversity hotspot' Ecology and Society, vol. 23, no. 1, 13. DOI: 10.5751/ES-09821-230113
- Estimating the Extent of CITES Noncompliance among Traders and End-ConsumersHindsley, A, Nuno, A, Ridout, M & St John, FAV 2017, 'Estimating the Extent of CITES Noncompliance among Traders and End-Consumers: Lessons from the Global Orchid Trade' Conservation Letters, vol. 10, no. 5, pp. 602-609. DOI: 10.1111/conl.12316
- Changing livelihoods and protected area managementGardner, CJ, Gabriel, FUL, St John, FAV & Davies, Z 2016, 'Changing livelihoods and protected area management: a case study of charcoal production in south-west Madagascar' Oryx, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 495-505. DOI: 10.1017/S0030605315000071
- Research ethicsSt. John, FAV, Brockington, D, Bunnefild, N, Duffy, R, Homewood, K, Jones, JPG, Keane, AM, Milner-Gulland, EJ, Nuno, A & Razafimanahaka, JH 2016, 'Research ethics: Assuring anonymity at the individual level may not be sufficient to protect research participants from harm' Biological Conservation, vol. 196, pp. 208-209. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.01.025
- Toward a new understanding of the links between poverty and illegal wildlife huntingDuffy, R, St John, FAV, Buescher, B & Brockington, D 2016, 'Toward a new understanding of the links between poverty and illegal wildlife hunting' Conservation Biology, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 14-22. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12622
- The militarization of anti-poachingDuffy, R, St John, FAV, Buescher, B & Brockington, D 2015, 'The militarization of anti-poaching: undermining long term goals?' Environmental Conservation, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 345-348. DOI: 10.1017/S0376892915000119
- Captive Reptile Mortality Rates in the Home and Implications for the Wildlife TradeRobinson, J, St John, FAV, Griffiths, RA & Roberts, DL 2015, 'Captive Reptile Mortality Rates in the Home and Implications for the Wildlife Trade' PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0141460
- Evaluating deterrents of illegal behaviour in conservationSt John, FAV, Mai, C-H & Pei, K 2015, 'Evaluating deterrents of illegal behaviour in conservation: Carnivore killing in rural Taiwan' Biological Conservation, vol. 189, pp. 86-94. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.08.019
- How to ask sensitive questions in conservationNuno, A & St John, FAV 2015, 'How to ask sensitive questions in conservation: A review of specialized questioning techniques' Biological Conservation, vol. 189, pp. 5-15. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.09.047
- Elephant conservation and corruption beyond the ivory tradeSmith, RJ, Biggs, D, St John, FAV & 't Sas-Rolfes, M 2015, 'Elephant conservation and corruption beyond the ivory trade' Conservation Biology, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 953-956. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12488
- Dynamics of the global trade in live reptilesRobinson, J, Griffiths, RA, St John, FAV & Roberts, DL 2015, 'Dynamics of the global trade in live reptiles: Shifting trends in production and consequences for sustainability' Biological Conservation, vol. 184, pp. 42-50. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.12.019
- Data collected using the randomised response technique must be analysed using specialised statistical methodsKeane, AM, Nuno, A & St John, FAV 2015, 'Data collected using the randomised response technique must be analysed using specialised statistical methods' Biological Conservation, vol. 187, pp. 279-280. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.04.020
- Robust study design is as important on the social as it is on the ecological side of applied ecological researchSt. John, FAV, Keane, AM, Jones, JPG & Milner-Gulland, EJ 2014, 'Robust study design is as important on the social as it is on the ecological side of applied ecological research' Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 51, no. 6, pp. 1479-1485. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12352
- Estimating the prevalence of researcher misconductRoberts, DL & St John, FAV 2014, 'Estimating the prevalence of researcher misconduct: a study of UK academics within biological sciences' PeerJ. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.562
- Biology's dronesHumle, T, Duffy, R, Roberts, DL, Sandbrook, C, St John, FAV & Smith, RJ 2014, 'Biology's drones: Undermined by fear' Science, vol. 344, no. 6190, pp. 1351. DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6190.1351-a
- Wildlife consumption and recall accuracy – but is it recall of hunting, of cooking or of eating?Newing, H & St John, FAV 2013, 'Wildlife consumption and recall accuracy – but is it recall of hunting, of cooking or of eating?' Animal Conservation, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 606-607. DOI: 10.1111/acv.12092
- New rhino conservation project in South Africa to understand landowner decision-makingSmith, RJ, Roberts, DL, Duffy, R & St John, FAV 2013, 'New rhino conservation project in South Africa to understand landowner decision-making' Oryx, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 323. DOI: 10.1017/S0030605313000768
- Effective conservation depends upon understanding human behaviourSt John, FAV, Keane, AM & Milner-Gulland, E 2013, Effective conservation depends upon understanding human behaviour: Chapter 19. in DW Macdonald & KJ Willis (eds), Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2. Wiley Blackwell, pp. 344-361.
- Innovative Techniques for Estimating Illegal Activities in a Human-Wildlife-Management ConflictCross, P, St. John, FAV, Khan, S & Petroczi, A 2013, 'Innovative Techniques for Estimating Illegal Activities in a Human-Wildlife-Management Conflict' PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. e53681. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053681
- Opinions of the public, conservationists and magistrates on sentencing wildlife trade crimes in the UKSt John, FAV, Edwards-Jones, G & Jones, JPG 2012, 'Opinions of the public, conservationists and magistrates on sentencing wildlife trade crimes in the UK' Environmental Conservation, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 154-161. DOI: 10.1017/S037689291200001X
- Identifying indicators of illegal behaviour: carnivore killing in human-managed landscapesSt John, F, Keane, A, Edwards-Jones, G, Jones, L, Yarnell, RW & Jones, JPG 2012, 'Identifying indicators of illegal behaviour: carnivore killing in human-managed landscapes' Proceedings of the royal Society B, vol. 279, no. 1729, pp. 804-812. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1228
- Conservation and human behaviour: lessons from social psychology.St John, F, Edwards-Jones, G & Jones, JPG 2010, 'Conservation and human behaviour: lessons from social psychology.' Wildlife Research, vol. 37, no. 8, pp. 658-667. DOI: 10.1071/WR10032
- Testing novel methods for assessing rule breaking in conservation.St John, F, Edwards-Jones, G, Gibbons, JM & Jones, JPG 2010, 'Testing novel methods for assessing rule breaking in conservation.' Biological Conservation, vol. 143, no. 4, pp. 1025-1030. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.01.018
- Investing in agroforestry options for forest restoration in Indonesia
- Marrying community land rights with stakeholder aspirations in Indonesian Borneo
- National parks & people: Resolving the links between poverty and rule-breaking. WILDPOV (Grant No. 755965)
- Understanding perceptions: Hen harrier brood management trial
Project: Resolving the links between poverty and rule-breaking in conservation
Funder: European Research Council Starting Grant, 2018 - 2023
Researchers: Freya St. John, Corinna Van Cayzeele, Leejiah Dorward, Harriet Ibbett
Poverty is frequently perceived to be the root cause of illegal natural resource use – the hunting or extraction of wildlife not sanctioned by the state. When unsustainable, such activities threaten conservation of ecosystems and endangered species. However, understanding what motivates individuals involved is a major challenge; understandably few are willing to discuss their motives for fear of punishment. Furthermore, severe, multifaceted poverty overlaps with regions prioritised for their globally important biodiversity. This association exacerbates the problem that illegal activities pose for policy-makers responsible for managing and policing the use of nature. The dominant approach to conserving biodiversity is to establish protected areas which typically restrict resource use and manage infractions through law enforcement. However, the designation of such areas does not guarantee compliance, as demonstrated by ongoing infractions and its conspicuous profile on global policy agendas. This includes the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which calls for urgent action to halt biodiversity loss and hunting of protected species. Solving this problematic cocktail of poverty, exclusion from resources and drivers of illegal resource use requires a new approach to understanding why people break rules and to what extent poverty underpins behaviour. This project will draw on concepts from a range of disciplines, including development studies, criminology and psychology, to improve our understanding of why people break rules and to what extent poverty underpins their behaviour.
Project: Investing in agroforestry options for forest restoration in Indonesia
Funder: Darwin Initiative, 2016 – 2019
Researchers: Freya St. John with Mangara Silalahi (Burung Indonesia), Tom Swinfield (RSPB), Rhett Harrison (ICRAF), Aidan Keane (University of Edinburgh)
Collaborators: Burung Indonesia, PT REKI, RSPB, ICRAF, University of Bangor, University of Edinburgh
Project Description: Much of Indonesia’s forest cover has been logged (>80M ha) yet studies have shown that exhausted logging concessions harbour high levels of biodiversity and supply valuable ecosystem services, consequently, their restoration is a conservation priority. 49 million people, among the poorest in the country, live on forest margins. With limited livelihood options, many depend on clearing forests for agriculture with the uncertain hope of attaining land tenure. Harapan Rainforest is an Ecosystem Restoration Concession in Sumatra which has a 90 year license to restore 98,000 ha of logged forest. With many indigenous and migrant families living within the concession and clearing land for agriculture, the situation at Harapan typifies the challenges facing forest restoration in Indonesia. This interdisciplinary project will examine the likely win-win scenario of agroforestry which has the potential to provide valuable livelihood opportunities consistent with restoration and biodiversity objectives.
Project: Marrying community land rights with stakeholder aspirations in Indonesian Borneo
Funder: Darwin Initiative, 2016 – 2019
Researchers: Matthew Struebig (University of Kent) and Freya St. John
Collaborators: Fauna and Flora International Indonesia programme, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Borneo Futures, University of Queensland
Project Description: Community forest management (CFM) is championed as a way to benefit local livelihoods and forest conservation, and Indonesia recognises this as part of its efforts to reduce poverty. Growing decentralisation and policy reform now supports community-based management throughout Indonesia, where the government aims to reallocate 12.7 Mha of state forest to poor indigenous communities. While these reforms support human rights and could alleviate poverty, counter-intuitively they also allow communities to clear forest. The governments' plan to improve rural wellbeing thus risks compromising the very ecosystems and biodiversity on which its people depend. By producing spatial datasets and developing case-studies within CFM areas this project aims to assess the impact of CFM on wellbeing and build the capacity of local governments of Kalimantan to better incorporate environmental and developmental needs into their spatial land-use planning processes.
Project: Novel approaches to resolving conflicts over human livelihoods and biodiversity conservation: People and rising geese populations in Scotland
Funder: University of Kent Faculty of Social Science, 2016 – 2017
Researchers: Freya St. John with Nils Bunnefeld (University of Stirling)
Project Description: Conflicts between those interested in using versus conserving biodiversity are widely recognised as both damaging to human livelihoods and biodiversity and are increasing in scope and scale. Yet, despite this recognition, there is a lack of theory to help guide the resolution of these problematic issues. The aim of this project is to develop a novel conceptual and analytical model to resolve conflicts over biodiversity conservation and human livelihoods. Working on the island of Islay, this project will investigate issues associated with the management of geese numbers which impose costs on the island’s farmers.
Project: Tolerating tigers: Do local beliefs offset human-carnivore conflicts?
Funder: Leverhulme Trust, 2014 – 2017
Researchers: Freya St. John with Matthew Struebig (University of Kent), Jeanne Mckay (FFI-Indonesia Programme), Matthew Linkie (WCS)
Collaborators: Fauna and Flora International Indonesia Programme; University of Cambridge; Universitas Nasional (UNAS) Jakarta
Project Description: Large carnivores that cause loss of human life or livelihoods are frequently killed in retribution. However, religious or spiritual beliefs may encourage local tolerance of such conflicts. To date, conservation biologists and social scientists have not tested this aspect of human-wildlife conflict within a quantitative and interdisciplinary framework. A long-term case study of Sumatran tigers living close to Islamic farming communities allows us to explore both ecological and social determinants of such conflicts. Taken together, these data will provide timely insights into the drivers of tiger conflict, and allow us to better understand how to strengthen tolerance towards dangerous wildlife.