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Lily Zeng

Graduate Student, Yale University


Biodiversity conservation, sacred landscapes, ethnic minorities

Research locations

Yunnan, China

Research Projects



My interests combine natural science and social science to help understand when and how community goals for protecting sacred groves are compatible with conservation goals, as well as to support both biodiversity conservation and cultural self‐determination. Focusing on the changing role of Holy Hills among indigenous Dai communities in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China, this research combines ethnographic and ecological data in asking the following questions: 1) How do changes in Dai ethnic identity and their connection with sacred nature influence land use practices both inside and outside Holy Hills? 2) What are the ecological consequences of this evolving relationship?