December 6, 2017

The NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change (LCLUC) Program awarded the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a three-year grant in the amount of $720,000 to examine the effects of social and ecological factors, particularly human migration and tourism on the environment and on the sustainability of island ecosystems.

Dr. Richard Bilsborrow

Dr. Richard Bilsborrow

Richard Bilsborrow, PhD, research professor of biostatistics at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and fellow at UNC’s Carolina Population Center, is a co-investigator for the project, which is led by Stephen J. Walsh, Lyle V. Jones Distinguished Professor of geography at UNC and director of the Center for Galápagos Studies.

“I am excited about this project as we aim to study how human impacts affect land use on islands and island ecosystems,” Bilsborrow said. “We will generate knowledge that could lead to policies that better protect island ecosystems while allowing people to continue to enjoy islands, given their economic dependence on tourism.”

While the Galápagos Islands are the central area of study for the grant, the project also includes other islands similarly challenged by the multi-scale and multi-dimensional threats to island ecosystems and their sustainability.

The grant, “Synthesis of Drivers, Patterns and Trajectories of LCLUC in Island Ecosystems,” will explore the LCLUC that profoundly affects the natural environment in places such as Hawaii, Fiji and the Canary Islands. An improved understanding of these connections is critical for identifying the effects of changing environments on exotic island ecosystems and explaining the impacts of the tourism industry and environmental and economic transitions on broader land use issues.

This news originally appeared on the UNC College of Arts and Sciences website


Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or

Visit our communications and marketing team page.
Contact with any media inquiries or general questions.

Communications and Marketing Office
125 Rosenau Hall
CB #7400
135 Dauer Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7400