Dearden, Philip



Phone number: (250) 721-7335
Department: Geography

Research description:

-Ecotourism with a special focus on communities and protected areas
-Marine protected areas in the tropics and Canada
-Marine wildlife tourism
-Climate change
Marine protected areas in tropics and Canada
Expertise Profile

The 2014 Living Planet Index shows that species' populations have dropped by 50 percent since 1970. With increasing numbers of species on the World Endangered List, many scientists feel we are on the brink of a major mass extinction. The oceans are particularly vulnerable because global protection mechanisms, such as national parks, are not as well developed as on the terrestrial areas of the globe, with under 3 percent protected.

We rely on the ocean's biodiversity: even the smallest organisms like phytoplankton are important. "We would not be breathing oxygen now if it wasn't for the phytoplankton in the ocean. Every second breath you take comes from the ocean," Geographer Dr. Philip Dearden says.

Dr. Dearden studies the biodiversity of terrestrial and marine environments, but he focuses on marine environments because of the lack of adequate protective mechanisms, his main area of research expertise.

For over forty years, he has worked with communities and organizations across the world to implement sustainable practises. He says conservation is mostly about human behaviour modifications: "We work with communities, and we see how we can lessen their impact and yet build them sustainable livelihoods." Much of his work is concentrated in the tropics where the pressures on biodiversity are the strongest and his research teams have worked in Ghana, Tanzania, Mexico, Sri Lanka, India and throughout Southeast Asia.

In Thailand, Dr. Dearden shows fishermen the economic value of preserving coral for tourism. Often, fishermen dynamite reefs to stun the fish and make them float to the surface, but this also blasts the coral. Dr. Dearden and his team work with those communities to prove that they can make more money by giving dive tours than by dynamiting coral for fish. He says, "We replace a destructive practice with tourism, but then we also have to ensure that tourism is well-managed." A rapidly emerging problem is climate change as the reefs die due to higher water temperatures and Dr. Dearden's team are examining ways to make marine protected areas and communities more resilient to these changes.

Related Links

Faces of UVic Research video:

International research:

-Thirty years experience in tropical development research and practice in environment, especially in Asia.

International activities:

-University linkage agreements. -Numerous keynote addresses at international conferences. -Lead Geography field schools to India focussed on Conservation and Community development. Member, World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA)

Countries lived or worked in:

-Thailand -Laos -Cambodia -Vietnam -Burma -The Phillipines -Indonesia -Sri Lanka -India -Jamaica -Ghana -Tanzania -China.



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