Project Aims

The BIOSEC project aims to define a new field of research in the illegal wildlife trade. Our main research question is:

Are concerns about protecting biodiversity and global security becoming integrated? And if so, in what ways?

We aim to answer this by focusing in five sub-questions.

  1. What is an environmental crime? In what ways are biodiversity losses as a result of illegal wildlife trade being defined as global security threats?
  2. How does an environmental crime approach to illegal wildlife trade change our understanding of security?
  3. What is the nature of the EU policy response to illegal wildlife trafficking?
  4. How are new technologies from the security sector being used to tackle wildlife trafficking?
  5. How does an environmental crime approach to wildlife trafficking shape responses in source and end user countries?

The project has three main objectives:

Objective 1: To develop pioneering theoretical approaches to understanding the links between biodiversity and security. The main intellectual objective of the project is to develop a fresh and innovative theoretical framework for political ecology; this is to help us understand the challenges posed by global environmental change, by specifically exploring the potential links between biodiversity protection, illegal wildlife trade and environmental crime.

Objective 2: To generate new kinds of empirical data on the illegal wildlife trade to demonstrate the ways that biodiversity protection and security are increasingly linked. The team will analyse existing datasets on the illegal wildlife trade and will also undertake ethnographic fieldwork to generate new forms of information about the trade. We plan to bring together information from source, transit and end user countries, gain a better sense of the challenges faced by organisations dealing directly with the illegal wildlife trade, and crucially we want to understand how communities on the ground experience the integration of biodiversity conservation and security.

Objective 3: To provide policy relevant information on the links between biodiversity protection and global security to government agencies, international organisations and NGOs. As we develop new security-oriented approaches to the illegal wildlife trade, policy-makers urgently need more information in order to design more effective and socially just responses. The BIOSEC project team aims to develop new approaches to assist and support user groups in practical actions.