Joycelyn Longdon

2021 PhD Studentship
Technology and tropical forest conservation
Monitoring Ghanaian Forests with bioacoustics, machine learning and local ecological knowledge
Cambridge Conservation Initiative


In recent years, remote sensing and machine learning have emerged as invaluable tools to support our understanding and monitoring of forest ecosystems and aid conservation efforts. Across many efforts to protect biological diversity in forests around the world, area-based conservation is seen to be the most effective.

Many of the protected areas and other delineated conservation areas overlap with Indigenous or traditional lands, yet the management and monitoring of these sites is often removed from the communities who are the traditional custodians of conservation priority areas.

Connection to essential local knowledge

Although sensing technologies have greatly advanced the monitoring capabilities within the field, they can widen the disconnect between conservation projects and Indigenous or local communities, weakening important links and connections to essential local knowledge.

A clear gap has emerged for a method that meets the urgent need for conservation to make use of state-of-the-art data science without losing the benefits gained from, and necessity of, including local ecological knowledge and participation.

Through the design and application of a participatory method, that advocates for community engagement and agency, my work seeks to investigate how sensing technologies and communities can come together to monitor biodiversity and inform conservation interventions in the tropics.

Fieldwork in Ghana, 2022. Photo: Joycelyn Longdon
Pushing the boundaries of research

The EET studentship enables me to work with researchers at the British Trust for Ornithology to investigate the role of technology, bioacoustics, and machine learning in the Ghanaian tropical forests of West Africa.

Bioacoustics is a conservation technique that uses audio sensors to listen to the forests. Forests are like orchestras and the sounds within them allow us to identify specific and important species like birds.

I am excited to be bringing together academic fields that often operate in distinct silos and explore what happens when you push the boundaries of research and create new spaces for discovery.

Fieldwork in Ghana, 2022. Photo: Joycelyn Longdon

After my PhD, I hope to continue my research – expanding and improving on my investigation and design – as well as sharing my work in the public sphere through my platform ClimateInColour and other arts institutions.

I want to be able to conduct research that is directly fed back into policy, civil society, community action, public engagement, arts and education.

The EET scholarship supports my field work and provides me with essential research skills which are the foundation for the work I plan to do in the future.

I want to expand and invite more people to work with me on the topics of conservation and Indigenous knowledge.

More about Joycelyn’s work:

Researcher profile

Personal portfolio

Founder of ClimateInColour

Joycelyn Longdon is a 2021 CCI Knowledge-Exchange student. The Knowledge-Exchange Studentship Programme aims to produce insights that advance both impactful conservation research and effective applied conservation, utilising Cambridge Conservation Initiative’s network of leading academics and conservation practitioners.