Sarah Milne's picture

Sarah Milne

Lecturer in the Resources, Environment & Development group


BSc BE(Mech)(Hons I) (Melbourne); PhD (Cambridge)

Contact details

Room: Crawford 3.23

I am interested in the political ecology of natural resource management and environmental interventions, particularly in the context of community-based conservation; resource rights interventions; and emerging market mechanisms for conservation like Payments for Environmental Services (PES) and Reducing Emissions from forest Degradation and Deforestation (REDD). Most of my research is focused on Cambodia, where I have been active as a conservationist, ethnographer and advocate since 2002. In this context, I am particularly interested in state-society relations around struggles over land and forests, including problems of corruption and violence. My current research entails regular fieldwork at the forest frontier, where I investigate how community livelihoods and resource rights are interacting with the emergence of new markets for commodities like timber, land and ‘forest carbon’. In addition, I maintain a research and writing agenda on the politics and practice of transnational biodiversity conservation. This was the subject of my 2010 PhD thesis, which was an ethnography of a high-profile international conservation project in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. I am now writing up this work as an ethnographic monograph, with support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation. See Google Scholar profile.

Research grants and projects

  • Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship, Wenner-Gren Foundation. (2015-2016) Saving nature? The politics and practice of international conservation in Cambodia

  • Collaborator on Australian Research Council Discovery grant: The political ecology of forest carbon – Mainland Southeast Asia’s new commodity frontier? led by Dr Sango Mahanty, The Australian National University (2012-2015)

  • Co-lead with C. Sandbrook (University of Cambridge), T. Sunderland and B. Powell (Centre for International Forestry Research) on DfID-funded grant entitled: The new agrarian change? Exploring the dynamic interplay between food security, commodity production, and land-use in tropical forest landscapes. I am conducting a critical analysis of land interventions that attempt to couple agricultural improvement and conservation in Cambodia and Indonesia, with an emphasis on food security issues for local communities, in collaboration with PhD students. (2013- 2014)

  • Improving governance, policy and institutional arrangements to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (Project leader Luca Tacconi, funded by ACIAR). I am investigating the opportunity costs and land tenure implications of avoided deforestation for small-holders and communities in Riau and Papua. (2010-2013)

Career highlights

  • 2012-2014: Consultant: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Cambodia; & Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
  • 2012-2013: Technical Adviser, Wildlife Conservation Society, Cambodia (four months)
  • 2010-2011: Social Development Director, Conservation International (part time)
  • 2005-2009: PhD candidate, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, U.K
  • 2005-2008: General Sir John Monash Scholar
  • 2002-2005: Community Program Manager, Conservation International, Cambodia
  • 2002-2003: Australian Youth Ambassador for Development (AusAID), Cambodia
  • 2001-2002: Research engineer, Centre for Appropriate Technology, Alice Springs
  • 1997 & 1998: Mechanical engineering work experience in Brazil and Cuba

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