A fascination with the complex relationships that exist between people and the natural environment led me to a career at the interface between the natural and the social sciences. In 2004 I gained a first class joint BSc in Environmental Sciences & Development Studies from the University of East London, UK.
This led to a series of positions with local and international development and conservation organisations, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2001-3 I coordinated a project for the sustainable harvesting and preservation of edible forest products for increased food security in rural Zambia. In 2005-6 I was responsible for Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)-funded biodiversity surveys in the Eastern Arc and Coastal Forest biodiversity hotspot of Tanzania. I also co-developed a Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) – funded plan for sustainable timber-planting among indigenous forests and elephant routes. In 2007 I returned to Italy, my home country, where I co-designed an EU-funded multi-country project on improved management of low-input farming systems. I also became a consultant for Bioversity International, for which I revised a project on neglected agricultural species in Yemen, and developed a database on traditional crops and edible wild plants of Italy.
I returned to full-time education in 2008 and gained a first class MPhil in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge, UK. Here I deepened my interest in the social and institutional aspects of natural resource management. My thesis focused on the application of the ecosystem service framework to environmental policy-making and sustainability markets.
In October 2009 I joined WildCRU to read for a DPhil on the effectiveness of Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CB-NRM) for wildlife conservation, poverty alleviation and social justice. One focus of this research is on the conservation of large felids in sub-Saharan Africa.
If all livelihoods were secure and all nature was intact, I would happily dedicate my days to contemporary and afro dance and choreographing. In Zambia I established a performing company for HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. Based on the work of this group, I edited the documentary-film The Cemetery of Flowers, which in 2007 won the Creative Media Competition of the EU Virus Free Generation campaign. I have also performed as a dancer for Oxford’s Ballet in Small Places.
Two fantastic adopted children from Zambia occupy most of my free time.