Oxford Long-Term Ecology Lab

Long-Term Ecology, Biodiversity Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship Technologies

Ashley received her BA(Hons) from Dartmouth College (USA) in Environmental Studies with a minor in Environmental Public Policy. As an undergraduate she interned with the University of Port Elizabeth (South Africa) Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit and completed the Dartmouth College Africa Foreign Study Program. Her undergraduate honors thesis investigates the attitudes towards conservation of Zulu communities bordering Tembe Elephant Park in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Ashley worked in rural Guinea and the Gambia, West Africa as an agroforestry and biodiversity conservation extension agent in the United States Peace Corps from 2005 to 2007.

Ashley joined the School of Geography and the Environment in 2008 as an MSc student in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management. Her dissertation, “Do dragons prevent deforestation? Assessing the resilience of customarily conserved areas in Kiang West, the Gambia,” employed remote sensing and social surveys to compare the vegetation cover of protected areas with forest patches conserved by a local belief in supernatural dragons over time. She graduated with distinction and expanded on her dissertation as an intern with the Environmental Change Institute. She commenced her DPhil in Geography and the Environment in 2009.

Current Research

As a member of the Oxford Biodiversity Institute, Ashley mapped sacred natural sites around the world. Religious groups own 5-10% of global famassey01orests and influence much more, in addition to their investment in commercial forestry and consumption of wood and forest products. The initiative’s sacred natural sites include, inter alia, Shinto shrine forests in Japan, Cambodian forests managed by Buddhist monks and Ethiopian Tewahedo church forests.

Ashley’s doctoral research considered ecosystem services provided by culturally protected forests in the human-dominated land use matrix beyond protected areas. Her papers from her thesis include case studies in Malaysian Borneo, Ethiopia, Japan and the Gambia.


Selected Publications