Theresia Philemon Mvungi grew up surrounded by the natural environment. This gave her the feeling of being part of the ecosystem. From a very young age, under the influence of her parents, she understood the importance of conserving the natural environment. She recalls that as far back as 1989 her parents had a calendar hanging on the wall in their sitting room with a big picture of a crying tree, ‘Kilio cha Mti’ in Swahili language. That calendar was among the strategies used by the government at that time to provide awareness to the people to stop deforestation. Through the influence of this calendar she became a custodian and developed a strong sense of responsibility for the conservation of natural resources. Following that, Theresia decided to pursue her education focusing on environmental issues. She is an economic geographer, and holds a PhD in geography, Master’s degree in geography and environmental management and a bachelor’s degree in land use planning and environmental studies, all obtained at university of Dar es Salaam.
Her areas of research interests include resource use conflicts, environmental conservation, environmental policy, food security, climate change, and livelihood issues. Her interest in resource use conflicts began when she started teaching a second-year course on ‘environmental conservation education.’ Since then she has developed her skills in the theory and practice of conflict resolution. In 2012 she attended a training on competing claims on natural resources at Wageningen UR Centre for Development innovation in Netherlands. She is completing a paper (on progress) focused on (contested) land conflict between pastoralists (Loita – Maasai) and agro-pastoralist (Batemi-Sonjo) in Loliondo district, Arusha, Tanzania.