Jonaki Bhattacharyya

Jonaki was a post-doctoral fellow working with Hakai Research Chair Dr. Nancy Turner, and Dr. Chris Darimont with the Applied Conservation Science Lab. Foundational themes of Jonaki’s research include exploring:

-cultural and ecological aspects of animal-human-landscape relationships,
-diverse ways of knowing and knowledge systems, and
-cross-cultural experiences of relationships with the natural world.

She applies research in these areas to support conservation, land use and community planning, and wildlife management.

Her latest research focused on relationships among animals, humans and plants on the Central Coast of British Columbia, with particular attention to coastal estuarine root gardens. Jonaki’s doctoral research was an extensive study of wild (free-roaming) horses in Chilcotin, BC. Working with Xeni Gwet’in First Nation colleagues and local advisors, she developed an in-depth analysis of the ecological and cultural relationships between wild horses, people and the land. Her research in both regions examines how different cultural perceptions and ways of knowing contribute to management decisions.

Jonaki’s research, interests and teaching are informed by experience working in private consulting and NGO environments, in collaboration with community-based and government initiatives. Her professional experience includes contributions to community wildlife monitoring, protected areas planning, communications, and environmental assessment. She taught applied ethnoecology and qualitative methods in Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria, and believes strongly in maintaining an active role mentoring and sharing supportive engagement with graduate and undergraduate students.


Current coastal research activities are funded by the Tula Foundation, with in-kind support from the University of Victoria, Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department (HIRMD), the Hakai Beach Institute, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, and the Hakai Network.


Bhattacharyya, J. & Larson, B.M.H. (2014). The Need for Indigenous Voices in Discourse about Introduced Species: Insights from Controversy over Wild Horses. Environmental Values 23(6): 663-684. Open access.

Bhattacharyya, J. (2013) Cultural and Social-Ecological Significance of the Region Surrounding Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) to the Xeni Gwet’in and other Tsilhqot’in Nations: Relevant to environmental impacts of the proposed New Prosperity mine. Report submitted to the Independent Review Panel for the Canadian Environmental Assessment of the proposed New Prosperity Mine. Presented August 1, 2013, Williams Lake, BC, pdf

Bhattacharyya, J., Baptiste, M., Setah, D. & William, R. (2013) It’s Who We Are: Locating Cultural Strength in Relationship with the Land. In John Parkins & Maureen Reed (Eds.) The Social Transformation of Canada: New Insights into Community, Culture and Citizenship. Vancouver: UBC Press, see here

Bhattacharyya, J., Slocombe, S. & Murphy, S. (2011). The “Wild” or “Feral” Distraction: Effects of Cultural Understandings on Management Controversy over Free-Ranging Horses (Equus ferus caballus). Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal 39(5): 613-625. (DOI) 10.1007/s10745-011-9416-9, see here


Bhattacharyya, J. (2012). Knowing Naŝlhiny (Horse), Understanding the Land: Free-Roaming Horses in the Culture and Ecology of the Brittany Triangle and Nemiah Valley. Doctoral Dissertation, School of Planning, University of Waterloo, ON, see here