Kevin Wafula Nyongesa’s PhD research on forest fire management

4. May 2022
Portrait of Kevin Nyongesa
In this article former APPEAR scholarship holder Kevin Wafula writes about his experiences as a scholar and his current work at the University of Lisbon on an integrated approach to extreme wildfire events.

The Forest Research Centre (CEF), School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon employed me as a Post-doc student working as a researcher in the FIRE RES project from March 2022 to March 2026. This job is an opportunity for me to develop my career in a forward-thinking and well-established institution as the Forest Research Centre (CEF), School of Agriculture at the University of Lisbon. I have taken related courses at BOKU Vienna and I am now putting them into practical use. I believe my skills are well suited for this job because I did my master’s degree and PhD in forest fire management. I will be able to carry out research in an area that I like and publish more scientific papers and books in this field of fire management. These papers and books will be useful for spreading knowledge to the wider scientific community, policy makers and resource managers on how to make decisions on forest fire management in the world. 

Currently I am collaborating with the Institute of Silviculture and Institute of Remote Sensing at BOKU to write and publish a scientific paper on “Evaluation of the relationship between VCI and the spatio-temporal occurrence of fire in Mount Kenya Forest Reserve, National Park and Farmlands”. Recently I attended and presented a report on identifying stakeholders and developing a roadmap for community wildfire innovation in the FIRE RES project. The conference was held at the University of Lisbon on 1 April 2022. 

I am so grateful for what the Austria Development Cooperation did for me as a PhD student from Kenya through the APPEAR scholarship. My scholarship in Austria helped me to study at BOKU, one of the best universities in the world in the field of Natural Resource Management. The scholarship helped me with funds to study and do research in Forest Fire Management in Mount Kenya. Without the scholarship, I would not have been able to accomplish my childhood career dreams of obtaining a PhD degree. The best experience I had was the international linkages or networks that I established during my studies. I was also awarded a KEF project fund for the FIREMAPS project. This was all through the networks that I established as a student. I am forever grateful and proud of my APPEAR scholarship. 

My studies in Austria changed my professional life positively. I am now a point of reference in natural resource management. I have edited so many scientific papers for different journals. I have supervised two master student theses and taught so many undergraduate students who have successfully completed their studies. Additionally, I have established very good academic, research and social networks between BOKU, University of Lisbon, Egerton University, Moi University and University of Eldoret. I am looking forward to any calls to submit joint proposals for research. 

For my future I wish to become a full professor at a university in Kenya and excellent researcher in natural resource management. I also plan to venture into politics in the future since people from my community would like me to represent them in Parliament.

Dr. Kevin Wafula Nyongesa is a professional in Natural Resource Management with over six years of work experience in Teaching, Research and Management consultancy roles. After graduating as Master of Science in Mountain Forestry at BOKU Vienna, Kevin Wafuala Nyongesa finished his PhD in Natural Resource Management at BOKU in 2019. Since March 2022 he works as Post-doc researcher at the Forest Research Centre (CEF), School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon.