Sanna Ojalammi. Photo: Mattias Sköld

Wolf researcher joining NAI

Through her work on interaction between wolves and humans in south-west Finland, Sanna Ojalammi learned how emotionally charged wildlife studies can be. As new researcher at NAI she returns to studying wildlife in Africa.

A trained cultural geographer, Sanna Ojalammi has worked extensively on wildlife conservation and management. The relationship between humans and wild animals is often complex and emotionally charged, says Ojalammi. A series of academic articles she published a few of years ago on interactions between wolves and humans, and wolf management in south-west Finland, caused a debate far beyond academic circles.

“It struck me just how strongly people were emotionally engaged, either for or against the grey wolf”, she says.

Ojalammi, who is on a six-month contract with NAI, is working on a research proposal for a project on wildlife policies in conservation areas in Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia.

While Ojalammi has previously worked on land disputes and land tenure issues in northern Tanzania, conditions in Botswana and Namibia are entirely new to her.

If the project gets funding, Ojalammi would like to do a historical analysis on the creation of three specific conservation areas, looking at issues such as how nature tourism affects local populations.

“It is necessary to look at a wider area than the actual national park. People living in the vicinity can also be affected, due to strict regulations that apply, for example, to the rights to hunt or to physically crossing an area”, she explains.

Ojalammi also aims to look at the implications from a gender perspective. She believes that conservation and wildlife management affect women and men differently. Gender has been a recurring theme in her work since she started doing post-doctoral research over ten years ago.

She also plans to write a discussion paper on trends and tendencies in Nordic development aid in Africa over the past ten years. It relates to a paper Swedish development aid scholar Bertil Odén wrote in 2011.

“It is time take another look at it – much has changed since Odén’s paper.”

Ojalammi says that while she does not want to draw premature conclusions, it seems that in the past decade governments have given more weight to factors meant to stimulate economic growth, such as tax reform, tax collection, finance and support for enterprise finance. These components would complement the Nordics’ traditionally strong focus on poverty reduction.

However, there are considerable differences between individual Nordic countries, something she intends to elaborate in the paper.

MATTIAS SKÖLD

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