Aina Brias Guinart

Global Environments Summer Academy 2018 participant


Region Spain


I have always been passionate about three fields: biology and the environment, education, and development. I graduated in Biology and became interested in the interactions between humans and nature. I decided to do my Masters in Environment and Development. After completing my Masters, I wanted some first-hand experience with the “reality” of conservation. This is how I ended up spending nine months in the Dindéfélo community-managed natural reserve in Senegal. Thanks to that experience, I became aware that conservation is filled with complexity and uncertainty where you not only have to deal with ever-changing environments, but also with a wide range of different interests, values, attitudes and behaviours among all the stakeholders involved.

My restless attitude and my innate curiosity has led me to participate in different education projects, from an education and outreach project in Senegal, to education workshops on sustainable consumption in Barcelona. In addition, my travels have given me the opportunity to embrace different cultures and world views in Southeast Asia and Latin America. These enlightening experiences made me curious about the relationship between environment and society, and how to use the best available science in conservation decision-making. That is when I decided to do a PhD at Helsinki University, Finland.

Education is important to increase knowledge and change attitudes. For this reason, environmental education programmes are frequently implemented in natural protected areas in order to improve biodiversity conservation. Despite that, many education programmes are being implemented without strong evidence of their effectiveness. From a socio-ecological perspective, my current research aims to contribute to fill this gap of knowledge.

My long-term goal is to promote bottom-up approaches and to bridge the gap between academia and practice. Specifically, I am interested in gaining a better understanding of the long-term impacts of education programmes, and how local environmental knowledge and local communities are integrated (or not) in all steps of the programmes. To do so, I will focus on specific case studies in Finland and Madagascar.

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