School of Earth and Environment

Katie Massarella

Postgraduate Researcher

Email address:
Room: 9.157

Affiliation: Sustainability Research Institute


After graduating from Lancaster University with a BA in English Language and Linguistics I spent eight years working in marketing and communications within a wide variety of organisations in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. I am also a qualified English as a foreign language teacher and have taught both in the UK and overseas. I have been lucky enough to travel to a wide range of countries, both as part of my work and for fun, and through my experiences I developed an interest in conservation and development issues. I decided to find out more and 2003 I completed an MSc in Sustainability: Environment and Development at the University of Leeds. I was then awarded a White Rose DTC (ESRC) Network scholarship to complete my PhD across the Universities of York and Leeds.


University of Leeds. MSc Sustainability: Environment and Development (Distinction)

Lancaster University: BA English Language and Linguistics (2:1)


Development Studies Association

Research Interests

  • Development studies
  • Political Ecology
  • Social and Environmental Justice
  • Social and political aspects of forest and wildlife conservation
  • Ethnography and ‘aidnography’
  • NGOs and international environmental aid

Teaching Interests

  • Environment and development
  • Qualitative research methods

Project details

Project title

Perspectives on a pilot: exploring actor framings, experiences and impacts of multi-scale forest conservation and development pilot projects


Dr Susannah Sallu

Dr Rob Marchant (University of York)

Dr Jon Ensor (Stockholm Environment Institute)


ESRC (White Rose DTC Network Scholarship)

Project outline

Amongst practitioners involved in global conservation and development interventions, piloting is widely considered to be an important tool; conceptualised as a way in which new concepts can be tested on the ground and lessons learnt gathered – potentially for future implementation of bigger interventions. Although large amounts of money, resources and attention are given to understanding pilot projects within their life spans and in terms of what they achieve in relation to project objectives, very little attention has been given to the use of piloting as a mechanism in itself and the wider consequences of its use.

Using a case study of the REDD+ pilot phase in Tanzania – a $100 million programme consisting of nine local pilot projects and a wide range of academic and governmental activity lasting between 2010 and 2015 – this PhD aims to contribute to this gap in knowledge. Using an inductive, ethnographic approach to data collection and analysis, I will explore the social aspects of the REDD+ pilot phase in Tanzania by exploring the ways in which different actors involved frame (understand) their experience of the project, and the wider impacts it has had on them beyond the project lifespan and objectives. I am guided by the following research questions:

  • How do different actors frame the REDD+ pilot scheme and their experience of it?
  • What has been the experience of actors since the pilot scheme ended?
  • How do actors perceive they, and other actors, benefitted and/or lost out from involvement in the REDD+ pilot scheme (and what can that tell us about social justice)?
  • What can these insights tell us about the broader use of pilot projects, and forest conservation and development intervention systems both in Tanzania and internationally?


Kate Massarella. 2013. Sink or swim? Exploring ENGO perspectives on shark conservation through narrative analysis. MSc Dissertation. University of Leeds.