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Jacob Phelps supervises 3 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Dr Jacob Phelps

Lecturer in Tropical Environmental Change and Policy

Jacob Phelps

Lancaster University

LEC Building



Tel: +44 1524 595043

Research overview

Jacob is an environmental scientist particularly interested in the institutional dimensions of tropical forest and biodiversity conservation. He leads the Conservation Governance Lab, which deals with the institutional and governance dimensions of issues such as illegal wildlife trade and tropical deforestation. Trained in the natural sciences and human geography, Jacob draws on a wide range of methods and analytic lenses, and is active in the science-policy interface.  Jacob has worked in the Neotropics (Costa Rica, Belize) and across Southeast Asia.  Until August 2015, he was a Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Indonesia.

PhD supervision

• Social and policy dimensions of Indonesian peatland fires and haze • Conservation rule breaking, corruption and governance of illegal resource access • How ecosystem service concepts/valuation are understood and used by policy makers, prosecutors and judges • Governance of harvest and trade of wild, ornamental marine fish in the Philippines

Research Interests

Jacob is broadly interested in environmental governance and policy in the context of tropical forest and biodiversity conservation.  His current research interests include:

  • Illegal wildlife trade dynamics and policy responses, including: 
    • Diverse socio-economic impacts of wildlife trade
    • The conservation and livelihood impacts of wildlife farming / captive breeding
    • Typologies of actors and networks involved in illegal wildlife trades.
    • Illegal trade of protected ornamental plants in continental Southeast Asia 
  • Illegal resource use, including the mechanics and moral economy of conservation rule-breaking.
  • Stakeholder perceptions of complex environmental challenges, notably related Indonesian peatland fires and illegal wildlife trade. 
  • Methods and politics of environmental valuation, and how these inform decision making.
  • Liability for environmental harm / natural resource damages and its role in addressing tropical sustainability challenges. 
  • Design of incentive-based conservation schemes, such as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) policies.  I have specific interests in:
    • Biodiversity and social 'co-benefits' of carbon forestry
    • Social equity dimensions of PES design
    • How schemes influence the broader development agendas
  • Biodiversity implications of economic liberalisation, including the emergence of new free trade agreements, ASEAN integration, and the economic 'opening' of countries like Myanmar.

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