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Current Research Projects

Current Research Projects

Frontier current has research projects in the following countries:


Frontier-Cambodia was the first international conservation agency to conduct systematic biodiversity research in Cambodia. The Frontier-Cambodia Forest Research Programme was initiated in 2004 in close partnership with the Ministry of Environment (Royal Government of Cambodia) within the Preah Sihanouk National Park, also known as Ream. After many successful projects at Ream, Frontier-Cambodia moved to Botum Sakor National Park in the South-West of Cambodia. This national park also contains a multitude of ecosystems and consequently is hugely diverse with a large number of species of conservation importance such as the Asian elephant, sun-bear, fishing cat, dhole, pileated gibbon and sunda pangolin. A programme of baseline inventories began in 2005 and Frontier has now obtained detailed species lists for a variety of fauna and flora. Species specific studies targeted at species of conservation importance are now being initiated with the aim of obtaining detailed information on distribution and pressures from human populations.

Host country partners include:

  • The Department for Nature Conservation and Protection
  • Ministry of Environment Cambodia
  • Royal Government of Cambodia

Many of Frontier-Cambodia recent projects have focused on ornithological surveys and have resulted in the identification of several rare and important species. Consequently Frontier-Cambodia is aiming for the area to be designated as an Important Bird Area. Density data has also been collected on important indicator species such as kingfishers and hornbills. Studies over the next months will aim to established distribution and density information on dhole (Cuon alpinus), an endangered canid, obtain distribution information on globally threatened mammals such as fishing cat, Asian elephant, tiger, sun-bear, silvered langur and pileated gibbon using interviews with indigenous groups and through sand bar surveys look for signs of crocodiles and otters.

Costa Rica

The long term goal of this new project initiated in 2009 is to investigate and provide data for models of ecosystem migration and species displacement due to climate change and the subsequent implications of climate change upon Costa Rica's network of protected areas. Our project is currently located near the remote Corcovado National Park and concentrate on indicator species, organisms which are particularly sensitive to changes in temperatures. Recently our research has been more specifically focussed on the following: sea turtles monitoring (beach patrol and hatching success); monkeys surveys (Squirrel monkey, Mantled howler monkey, Jeffries spider monkey and White-faced capuchin monkey); signs of big cats presence (pumas, jaguars and ocelots); forest amphibians, due to their use of small microhabitats and the porous nature of their skin they are particularly sensitive to climate change; hermit crabs behavioural studies; bird surveys; and canopy insects collection. Through the data being collected, we hope to gain a better understanding of the effect that global warming is likely to have on Costa Rican biodiversity.


Frontier-Fiji is a collaboration between the Society for Environmental Exploration and the International Ocean Institute - Pacific Islands (IOI-PI). The purpose of Frontier-Fiji is to conduct research into biodiversity and resource use around the island of Gau, focussing on coastal and marine environments. Local communities are heavily dependent on marine resources, which are suffering from overexploitation. A sustainable management strategy is of paramount importance to protect these ecosystems from further damage.

Biodiversity Assessment of Marine Protected Areas of the Island of Gau

The overall aim of this project is to better understand the marine resource use around the island through biodiversity surveys and conservation evaluation. Scientific baseline data surveys of reef areas, mapping the coral reef, sea grass beds and mangrove fringes of the region were conducted identifying biodiversity conservation needs. A Marine Research Methodology Training Manual has been created and the conservation and biodiversity needs are being identified. Islanders are trained to make informed decisions regarding ecosystem management. This is achieved by building awareness in schools and communities through environmental education and training.


Madagascar has suffered from intense deforestation and habitat destruction ever since humans colonised the island 5000 years ago. It is believed less than 10% of the forest cover on the island is left, with unprecedented numbers of species extinctions. The Malagasy government is keen to promote its unique flora and fauna to draw in increasing numbers of eco-tourists, thereby driving economic development within the country. The government is therefore eager to catalogue as many protected terrestrial and marine areas as possible, with the help of Frontier- Madagascar.

Frontier-Madagascar formed in 1999 as a collaborative project between The Society for Environmental Exploration and:

  • The Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines (IHSM) - part of the University of Toliara
  • Madagascar National Park (MNP)
  • The South West Regional Environmental Management Authority (SAGE) - a Malagasy NGO
  • Darwin Initiative Project 2001-2005 during the Anakao Marine Programme.

Baie de Diego

This project aims to a) highlight the regions of the bay that contain ecosystems recognised as being of high conservation value, b) develop a management plan for the area, and c) gain official protection for the area, working with SAGE and IHSM.

Methodologies include baseline biodiversity assessments to ascertain species composition and abundance, along with water quality and visibility levels. The focus is now on local marine resource use and building biodiversity awareness through workshops, school day data collections, meetings and assessment of local attitude towards official area protection.

Antsilopa Forest

The aim of our current project is to assess whether forest fragments act as refuges and corridors for wildlife between two existing protected areas, Montagne d'Ambre National Park and Ankarana Special Reserve. We aim to provide scientific evidence for the maintenance of smaller secondary forest patches that act as important components in the larger regional landscape matrix in the north of Madagascar. The conservation of this ecosystem could potentially protect transitional corridors between highly diverse areas and improve our knowledge concerning species migrations and movements within landscape matrices.


Frontier-Tanzania is a collaborative project first formed in 1989 between the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and the Society for Environmental Exploration (SEE). During our 18 years of collaboration Frontier-Tanzania has conducted extensive baseline biological and resource use surveys in 44 coastal forests, 17 East Usambara forest reserves, in the Udzungwa Mountains and the Kilombero Valley and at Mafia Island, Kilwa Kivinje, Songo Songo Archipelago, Mtwara and Pemba Island.

"In its biodiversity and biogeographical dynamics, Tanzania is proving to be one of the most - if not the most - significant countries in Africa...our knowledge especially of the eastern lowlands and forests has been transformed by the activities of Frontier-Tanzania. Over the past decade its collecting and data recording has progressively developed to achieve high professional standards, which allow vastly improved knowledge of the biodiversity, ecology and biogeography of the area through a detailed recording of specimens, habitats and altitudes.

Even bearing in mind the exhaustive collecting in the former Belgian Congo, and in other parts of Africa, Frontier's work certainly sets a new standard in the exploration and documenting of the African fauna."
Professor John Poynton, Science Associate, Natural History Museum

Over the years Frontier-Tanzania has developed collaborations with:

  • The University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
  • East Usambara Conservation Management Program (EUCAMP)
  • The Ulanga District Council Education Department
  • Tanzania National Parks Authority
  • Forest and Beekeeping Division
  • Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania
  • Natural History Museum of Trento
  • The Kilombero Valley Teak Company (KVTC)
  • The Wildlife Division, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism
  • Belgian Technical Cooperation (BTC)

Kilombero Valley Biological Surveys

The Kilombero Valley is situated between the Selous Game Reserve and the Udzungwa Mountains and constitutes an important migratory route for many large mammal species. However, agricultural immigration has proliferated over the past decade, leading to extensive habitat fragmentation and degradation, leaving only two remaining viable corridors: the Nyanganje Corridor and the Ruipa Corridor.

Frontier-Tanzania have been working for a client, The Kilombero Valley Teak Company in an area of miombo woodland, where we have been assessing the permeability of teak to the movement of large mammals at three study sites, each within teak plantations of eight years or older. Recommendations to conserve areas of high species diversity were made from these results.

At present, research is being conducted in a variety of habitats including miombo woodland, grassland, shamba and teak plantations and involves the monitoring of large mammal movements. The methodology enables the identification of seasonal and annual variations of habitat utilisation by different large mammal species ranging from the small Dik Dik to the African elephant. Small mammals, amphibians, butterflies and reptiles are also recorded using trapping stations. So far, this has led to the production of technical reports and management recommendations, training in biodiversity surveying & monitoring and a BTEC in Tropical Habitat Conservation.

This project recently received funding from DEFRA (Darwin Initiative) and aims at refining our knowledge regarding biodiversity, land use and large mammal movements through the Ruipa corridor by means of biodiversity surveys and mapping. On the basis of this data land management plans will then be put in place for each major stakeholder in the region, including government departments, private land-owners, and local communities.

Mafia Island Marine Park Biodiversity Surveys

This project aims at identifying key sites of biological diversity and conservation value while raising local awareness of marine conservation issues. Frontier-Tanzania is working in partnership with The University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. We recently returned to the island after leaving it in 1995, following a six-year programme of surveys and training, developing a management strategy for the park. This culminated in the creation of the Mafia Island Multi-User Marine Park. The recent project aims to quantify the value of marine parks as a conservation tool, investigating the success of the Mafia Island Multi-User Marine Park. This is achieved using baseline data surveys of the reefs that include mapping coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves around the island, identifying resource-use patterns and how dependent local communities are on these resources. Comparative studies are being conducted to assess the success of the marine park and the status of fish stocks after 15 years of implementation. Survey results from replicate fish composition studies are being compared with previous data from Mafia Island collected in 1989-1995. Work is continuing with local communities to build awareness of the vulnerability of marine ecosystems and form sustainable management recommendations. Marine monitoring systems are being formed with local scientists, students and fisheries officers. Hopefully this information will enable protected area managers to improve management strategies and promote non-destructive resource use.

Expedition Management: Tanzania and Madagascar

This adventurous 4 week expedition combines training in expedition and research skills with conservation of endangered wildlife and threatened habitats. The emphasis is on the execution of low impact rapid biodiversity assessments from mobile camps.

Research Training: background to biodiversity conservation, baseline biodiversity surveys, habitat mapping and species collection.

Expedition Training: research skills, expedition planning, navigation, communication, health, safety, hygiene, first aid, emergency evacuation, camp location and management, logistics, culture and heritage.

The expedition management team has discovered some fascinating new species, particularly reptiles and amphibians, in unexpected areas. Most recently Frontier-Tanzania discovered an isolated population of Red Colobus Monkeys in a fragmented area of forest which is situated outside reserve boundaries and was previously unknown. Furthermore, Frontier-Madagascar has located an area of dry deciduous forest on sandstone geology which, until now, was not known to exist outside any present reserves.