Current Board Members
- Fabrizio Frascaroli, President
Fabrizio Frascaroli is an interdisciplinary conservation ecologist interested in the nexus between culture and biodiversity. He has formal training in both social sciences (BA and MA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Iceland) and biology (MSc in Environmental Sciences and PhD in Ecology from the University of Zurich). Over the last two years, he has worked as a visiting postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida, part-time lecturer in Human Ecology at Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences (Pollenzo, Italy), and part-time lecturer in Statistical Programming for Ecology at the University of Bologna. He is currently a research associate at the Universities of Bologna and Zurich, and launching Lòm Research, the NGO he has founded to promote faith-based and biocultural approaches to conservation in Southern Europe. In his research, he has investigated extensively the biological and cultural values of sacred natural sites in Italy. Good parts of this work have already been published in peer-review journals and book chapters. More recently, he has moved his attention to the relation between faith, ritual, traditional environmental knowledge, and attitudes towards nature, which he is exploring using ethnographic methods and audio-visual media. While the field of religion and ecology has been his main focus, his interests also include common property, pastoralism, food sovereignty, ecological restoration, traditional environmental management, and alternative currencies. As he aims to see his research translate into actual policy and implementation, he has established collaborative links with and acted as an advisor for different NGOs and international institutions over the years. Besides his work within SCB, he is also currently serving as a member of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), member of the Steering Committee of IUCN’s specialist group on the Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA), and honorary member of the ICCA Consortium.
- Giulia Sajeva, Vice President
Giulia Sajeva is a doctor in human rights and the environment (Faculty of Law, Università di Palermo). She trained in Political Science and International Relations at the Università di Palermo, in Conservation Science at the Imperial College London and in Theory of Law and Constitutional Democracy at the Università di Genova. She has conducted research on indigenous peoples’ practices concerning the conservation of the environment, indigenous’ rights, ethical guidelines for research with indigenous peoples and local communities, intellectual property law and traditional knowledge, environmental ethics, and the access and benefit-sharing framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity. She collaborated with the South African NGO Natural Justice on issues concerning the recognition of indigenous peoples rights on lands and natural resources (trough instruments such as the Biocultural Community Protocols), doing field-work in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana. She also worked with the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens’ Conventions and Policies Section, researching on the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on the International Trade on Endangered Species. Currently she is working on a book on biocultural rights of indigenous peoples and local communities and she is collaborating in undergraduate and post-graduate courses on environmental law, legal theory and human rights. She is also doing research on environmental ethics studies and rights of the environment, and she believes that enlarging the focus beyond philosophical writings to embrace millennium old religion-based ethics is key to get a better understanding of human-environment relationships.
- Ashley Massey, Secretary
Ashley Massey serves as Chief Science Officer for Wynn Wynn Moving Pictures, an American start-up multi-media production and distribution company in New York City. She received her DPhil in Geography and the Environment from the University of Oxford, where she also received an MSc (Distinction) in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management. Her thesis research investigated sacred forests on a landscape scale in Malaysian Borneo, northern Ethiopia, the Gambia and Japan. She collaborated with the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and worked as the Research Assistant on the Mapping the Sacred project, an online database which maps the distribution of sacred natural sites around the world. She worked in rural Guinea and the Gambia, West Africa, for two years as an agroforestry and biodiversity conservation extension agent in the United States Peace Corps. She received a BA (Hons) from Dartmouth College in Environmental Studies with a minor in Environmental Public Policy. As an undergraduate she interned with the University of Port Elizabeth (South Africa) Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit and completed the Dartmouth College Africa Foreign Study Program. Her undergraduate honors thesis investigated the attitudes towards conservation of Zulu communities bordering Tembe Elephant Park in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
- Chantal Elkin, Treasurer
Chantal is the Director of the Wildlife & Forests Programme at the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), a small British-based NGO originally under the WWF umbrella but now an independent NGO. Chantal was with Conservation International for eight years as the Washington-based Manager of the Indo-Burma program and then as Director of CI’s Wildlife Trade program, focusing on the illegal trade in Asia. Chantal holds two Master’s degrees from the University of London, the first in Environment and Development in Southeast Asia and the second on Buddhism and conservation. Prior to working with CI, Chantal co-authored the 1998 publication, “Logging Burma’s Frontier Forests: Resources and the Regime” for the World Resources Institute. She is also author of the chapter, Strengthening Forest Conservation through the Buddhist Sangha, in the publication, Cambodia’s Contested Forest Domain (2013). Chantal has been a member of SCB’s RCBWG for several years.
- Dekila Chungyalpa, Member-at-Large
Dekila Chungyalpa is currently Associate Research Scientist at Yale University as well as the director of Sacred Earth, a faith and conservation program that she created at the World Wildlife Fund and continues to manage today. Between 2005 and 2011, she was the WWF US Director for the Greater Mekong Program. Prior to that, she worked for WWF in the Eastern Himalayas for 5 years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Environmental Policy from the College of Wooster, Ohio and a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development from American University, Washington DC. Dekila – who speaks Sikkimese, Tibetan, Hindi and Nepali – has extensive experience working with local communities in the Himalayan region and established several projects that benefit both communities and wildlife in tiger landscapes. In the Mekong, Dekila led the development of environmental solutions at a larger scale; in particular, regional climate change adaptation and sustainable solutions for hydropower for the Mekong river basin. In 2009, Dekila launched the Sacred Earth initiative, a pilot program at WWF that built partnerships with religious institutions and leaders towards concrete conservation results in the Amazon, East Africa, Himalayas, Mekong, and the United States. Dekila also serves as the environmental advisor for His Holiness, the 17th Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. Under his auspices, she advises over fifty-five monasteries in the Himalayas on environmental projects ranging from source water conservation to green monastery design. More information on these projects can be found at www.khoryug.com For her work with religious leaders, Dekila was awarded the prestigious McCluskey Fellowship award by Yale University in 2014.
Bas Verschuuren, Member-at-Large
As a freelance researcher and adviser Bas Verschuuren works on conservation and rural development issues in protected areas, World Heritage sites as well as in indigenous and community conserved areas. He links practical conservation experience and applied multidisciplinary conservation-research in order to strengthen community well-being and support sound management and policy solutions. His academic work includes teaching, education and applied scientific research undertaken on the conservation projects he is involved with. Through his associate research position at Wageningen University this work increasingly results in peer reviewed journal articles that offer historical, political and ontological perspectives on the global development of conservation. He is currently working on his third edited volume bringing together 50+ authors on the philosophy and practice of conservation in Asia. His freelance work involves advising conservation NGOs, government actors and conventions. He serve as a co-chair for IUCN Specialist group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas and a founder of the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative. As initiator, chair or programme coordinator and adviser he also supports non-profit initiatives that help create positive social and environmental change. He offers continued strategic support and assistance with network coordination, project acquisition, fund raising, programme management, evaluation and the facilitation of planning processes, meetings and international symposia and workshops.
- Kit Magellan, Member-at-Large
Kit Magellan is primarily a behavioural ecologist specializing in biological invasions in aquatic ecosystems. She received her PhD from the University in St Andrews in Scotland in 2005 and since then has held academic positions in Africa, Europe and Asia. She has also worked as an Ecological Consultant, with NGOs and in ecotourism, and has travelled around much of the world. The main focus of her work is behavioural interactions between native and invasive fish species with the dual aims of using these systems to inform ecological theory and providing information necessary for conservation efforts. She also works on behavioural theory, evolution, ecotoxicology, aquaculture, and biostatistics. Her interest in science-religion cooperation stems from invasion biology and encompasses both the management of biological invasions and policy. The main focus in this respect is mercy release, the Buddhist and Taoist practice of releasing captive animals to achieve good karma. Although founded in compassion, this often involves releasing unsuitable animals, including invasive species, into inappropriate habitats and can have devastating effects on recipient ecosystems, populations of native species, and the released animals themselves. Since joining the RCB, Kit has contributed to the SCB policy brief on mercy release and the Good Practise Guidelines for interacting with faith based communities. She also recently initiated a global network: the Conservation and Mercy Release Asia Network (CAMRAN), whose aims are to establish a knowledge sharing network, to facilitate discussion and coordinate actions to address the impacts of mercy release, and to develop region wide projects in line with international biodiversity and conservation targets. While this group is small right now, membership spans 9 countries, and projects are starting to be developed. Finally, as Editor-in-Chief of Aquatic Invasions and a member of the Executive Committee of INVASIVESNET (International Association for Open Knowledge on Invasive Species), she is ideally placed to monitor current research and promote recognition of these issues in the invasion biology community.
- Liza Zogib, Member-at-Large
Liza Zogib is founder and co-creator of DiversEarth, an NGO working at the special interface of nature, culture and spirit. As well as working to support local communities and their practices that benefit nature, DiversEarth also focuses on the protection, management and restoration of sacred natural sites and facilitating interreligious dialogue. Liza is a founding member of the Mediterranean Consortium for Nature and Culture and coordinator of their current project. DiversEarth’s geographical focus is the Mediterranean, Asia (in particular the Himalayas) and Switzerland. Thematically, DiversEarth directs its energy towards supporting mobile pastoralism and spiritually inspired conservation initiatives. Prior to the creation of DiversEarth, Liza worked for 11 years with WWF International first within the global protected areas programme and latterly in the Global and Regional Policy unit where she coordinated an international team leading on the development and implementation of WWF’s social policies. Liza is also co-chair of the IUCN CEESP Specialist Group on Religion, Spirituality, Environmental Conservation and Climate Justice (ReSpECC). A long-time yoga practitioner/teacher and a dancer of Bharata Natyam, Liza’s work is inspired by yogic and tantric teachings.
- Stephen Awoyemi
Stephen is the founder of the Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group.