Raised in a resource-based town beneath the humbling peaks of the Rocky Mountains, Nathan Bennett has spent the last decade working as a teacher, guide, leader, development worker, and researcher in rural communities from Latin America to northern Canada to Southeast Asia. From the many individuals and communities with whom he has had the fortune to work, he brings the insight of grounded experience, the weight of hope and dream-filled stories, and the confident belief that anything is possible.
Nathan's interest in environmental sustainability and conservation issues has been shaped by lifelong explorations of wilderness areas both in Canada and abroad. Exposure to wild places both professionally and personally, he says, has left him with an ethic of environmental responsibility and a desire to advocate for terrestrial and marine conservation.
The success of past, current, and future conservation initiatives, Nathan argues, depends on local support and consideration of social and economic development in protected area gateway communities. "Achieving a balance between the conservation and development agendas", he adds, "will be increasingly challenging on a finite planet that is characterized by a growing population, increasing pressure on natural resources, and rapid global social and environmental change." As society's storytellers, Nathan believes, social scientists have a challenging and ever-important role in facilitating the creation of grounded, strategic, and effective solutions that will support both conservation and development outcomes at a local level. The solutions that we embrace in the 21st century will need to be increasingly creative and reflective of the particular social and ecological context within which they operate.
As an early-career social scientist, Nathan seeks collaborative research projects that advocate for environmental protection while ensuring that communities neighbouring terrestrial and marine protected areas benefit from their existence. He is particularly interested in bringing local and often marginalized voices into discussions around resource management and conservation. To this end, his master's thesis focused on Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation perspectives on the benefits of conservation, capacity building efforts to maximize local benefit, and the role of social economy organizations in facilitating development relating to the creation of a national park on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories. His doctoral dissertation, which examined several questions related to the complex and evolving relationship between coral reef marine protected areas and local livelihoods on the Andaman Coast of Thailand through a solution-oriented lens, was successfully completed in July 2013.
Nathan Bennett is currently a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia and a Visiting Research Fellow in the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria. His current research projects focus on management and governance of marine protected areas, adaptation of communities to climate change within the context of multiple stressors, and the use of participatory methodologies to facilitate adaptation