Niwaeli Kimambo

Program: PhD

Research: I research environmental conservation of humid forests in East Africa. I am interested in balancing livelihood concerns with wildlife wellbeing, particularly primates. I use a wide array of methods; combining field ecology with interviews and remote sensing with statistical analysis in order to make site-specific recommendations. My goal is to highlight conservation options that are both ecologically viable and socially equitable.


For my Master’s project, I looked at approaches for increasing habitat connectivity in montane forests in Southern Tanzania. I compared tree cover trajectories for land that is under a protected status to land that is under individual landholding. Tree cover is important for improving habitat connectivity for arboreal primates. I showed how natural tree re-growth is suppressed while smallholder land is rapidly transforming to woodlots. I investigated the ecological factors suppressing regeneration and the social factors leading to tree planting, and recommended incorporation f smallholders’ land use in connectivity planning. Here is a quick 1-page summary of the work and another more detailed, 3-page summary the project.

I have broadened my scale of study for my PhD work to encompass other mid- and high elevation forests in the East African rift. I am now looking at expansion of tree planting around protected forests, its implications for wildlife, and evaluating the role of urbanization in driving this specific rural land use change.

I am currently also affiliated with the SILVIS lab

You can find more information about my teaching on the Geography graduate students webpage

Other initiatives include the Education Innovation Project on the daily lives of farmers adjacent to protected areas.