For over ten years I have been lucky enough to run integrated conservation and development projects in some of the most remarkable countries in the world. After starting my career studying the evolution of animal behaviour in the UK, I decided I wanted to have a more direct conservation impact overseas. I helped to establish an environmental NGO in Southern Africa 2009. This organisation, now entirely managed by local staff, continues support communities and local government agencies to sustainably manage natural resources, including the iconic species vital to attract conservation funding through ecotourism.
In developing countries with high levels of poverty and few sustainable livelihood options, losing reliable access to natural resources has a great an impact on poor local people. Recognising the benefits of economic growth in the developing world, and the precarious state of many natural systems, I am interested in ways to install socio-economic conditions that intrinsically incentivise environmentally sustainable behaviours. These benefit biodiversity and local communities.
A qualified CCNET Conservation Coach, I am passionate about the strategic planning of conservation projects to ensure we focus our resources efficiently and learn from mistakes. I believe in the power of participatory planning processes, making sure those involved in the use of natural systems have a say in how they should be managed and protected.
My Unit strives to identify and promote mechanisms for the wise-use of wetlands at local and national levels in WWT’s priority global hotspots. In these areas, WWT takes an integrated conservation and sustainable development approach, supporting communities, businesses and governments to transition to sustainable commercially-viable ways of working around wetland systems.
Our teams in Cambodia and Madagascar also seek to identify and conserve wetlands of high biodiversity value that are currently under threat and have little effective protection.
Current projects include Anlung Pring in Cambodia, now a Protected Area supported by a community-based ecotourism programme, and Lake Sofia in Madagascar, now a Ramsar Site with natural resources managed directly by community groups and highly profitable sustainable rice initiatives decreasing harmful chemicals entering the wetland system.
The Conservation & Development Unit also produces government-endorsed guidance and wetland environmental education material, highlighting the ecosystem service and biodiversity value of wetlands, and promoting wider sustainable use and protection.
With overall responsibility for overseas programme teams and offices, I share my time between SE Asia, Africa and our HQ at Slimbridge in the UK. I am passionate about the growth of WWT’s international impact, and am responsible for designing new projects, securing grants, reporting to funders and managing the day-to-day work of our remotely-located teams.
Sophanna L, Hour, P, Avent, T (2018). Report on Vulnerability Assessment of Boeung Prek Lapouv Protected Landscape.IUCN. Mekong WET - Building Resilience of Wetlands in the Lower Mekong Region
Blackham, G.V. & Avent, T. (2018). Guide National pour la Gestion Durable des Zones Humides, Madagascar. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
Blackham, G.V. & Avent, T. (2018). Guidance for the wise use of Freshwater Wetlands in Cambodia. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
Dickson et al (2017). PRISM – Toolkit for evaluating the outcomes and impacts of small/medium-sized conservation projects. Version 1. Available from www.conservationevaluation.org [Contributing Author]
Yav N., Seng, K., Nhim S., Chea, V., Bou V., & Avent, T. (2017). The impact of shrimp farming on water quality in Anlung Pring, a protected landscape in Cambodia. Cambodian Journal of Natural History. 1: 49–54
Avent. T., (2017) Rejuvenating community management in Madagascar’s wetlands. IUCN Specialist Group on Sustainable Use and Livelihoods (SULi) https://www.iucn.org/node/29578
Thomson, S., Avent, T., Doughty, LS. (2016). Range Analysis and Terrain Preference of Adult Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) in a South African Private Game Reserve: Insights into Carrying Capacity and Future Management. PLoS ONE 11(9): e0161724. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161724
Doughty, L., Slater, K., Zitzer, H., Avent, T., Thompson, S. (2014) The impact of male contraception on dominance hierarchy and herd association patterns of African elephants (Loxodonta Africana) in a fenced game reserve. Global Ecology & Conservation 2: 88-96
Avent, T.D. (2012) Making land claims work for conservation in South Africa. Biodiversity Science 7: http://www.biodiversityscience.com/2012/09/26/land...
Avent, T.D., Price, T.A.R., & Weddell, N. (2008) Age-based female preference in the fruit fly Drosophila pseudoobscura. Animal Behaviour 75; 1413-1421
Price, T.A.R., Bretman, A.J., Avent, T.D., Snook R.R., Hurst, G.D.D., & Wedell, N. (2008) Sex ratio distorter reduces sperm competitive ability in an insect. Evolution 62 (7); 1644-1652