Laura Kor

Laura Kor

Profile Display Name:

Laura Kor

E-mail Address:

Start Year

2019 (Cohort 6)

Research interests:

Conservation Biology; Botany; Ethnobotany; Natural Resource Management; Socio-Ecological Systems

Hobbies and interests:

PhD Project
PhD Title

Plant conservation in Colombia: Integrating ecological approaches and local knowledge for the protection of useful plant species

Research Theme

Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution


Additional supervisor(s)

Mauricio Diazgranados (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew),


Plants underpin life on earth. Despite this, one in five species risks extinction, driven by pressures such as habitat conversion, overexploitation and climate change. Colombia ranks second in the world for the number of plant species it supports. However, large gaps remain in understanding the country’s biodiversity and its role in human welfare.

This project aims to combine ecological and social research methods to define and conserve Important Plant Areas (IPAs) in Colombia, focusing on useful plant species – species with direct or indirect human uses. Potential IPAs will be identified in three case-study regions using botanical databases, habitat maps and the recently proposed methodology for IPA identification in Colombia, testing it for the first time.

Semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and workshops will inform IPA planning and investigate how local knowledge and use of plants compare to results from IPA approaches. This will be combined with land-use change modelling and species distribution modelling (SDM) to project future scenarios, assess the persistence of the proposed IPA network, and inform participatory scenario development (PSD). Research will be undertaken in collaboration with the Underutilised Plants and Fungi of Colombia (UPFC) project at Kew.

A socio-ecological approach is fundamental in this context. Conservation efforts in Colombia, a post-conflict nation, must integrate development and local communities and successful long-term conservation must consider future change. This ethnobotanical approach complements global conservation efforts – the new post-2020 global biodiversity framework emphasises the need to conserve biodiversity for “people and planet”.

Policy Impact

This project will improve understanding of plant biodiversity, its importance in ecosystem service provision, and the socio-economic implications of standard conservation practices. Colombia is a particularly pertinent case study country; the 2016 Peace Agreement simultaneously provided new opportunity to improve knowledge of its rich biodiversity and generated large-scale political changes, with increased rates in deforestation and natural resource use.

Background Reading
Grants and awards
  • SSPP Small Bursary Grant – King’s College London
  • BSBI Training Grant – Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland

Foodie Pharmacology Podcast Podcost. Contributors: Laura Kor, Cassandra Quave

News & Blogs

El top 10 de lugares en Colombia donde hay más plantas útiles amenazadas, El Espectador

Conferences and Workshops

Social Links
University Departmental Website:
Personal Website:



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