Research interests

New paper!The impact of systematic conservation planningAnnual Review of Environment and Resources

My DPhil research explores strategic approaches to biodiversity conservation. Globally we are faced with an extinction crisis and resources for biodiversity conservation must be carefully targeted. When tasked with prioritising areas of land and sea for protection, conservation planners must consider a wide range of biological, economic and socio-political factors if a plan is to be effective. Systematic conservation planning (SCP) has gained popularity with policy makers worldwide, as a planning framework designed to provide transparency in value-laden decision making, and to bridge the ‘knowledge-implementation divide’. This is in part due to the fact it allows decision makers to consider trade-offs between social, economic and biological objectives. However, there are few evaluations of the effect of SCP approaches on conservation planning globally.

The central aim of my project is to better understand the factors which influence the design and implementation of SCP-based conservation plans beyond consideration of the traditional biological criteria and to evaluate ‘what works’ in conservation planning.

Stack of books - Credit: Evan Bench

This will start with a systematic mapping exercise to collate data on the nature and form of conservation plans developed around the globe.

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A review of evaluations approaches in conservation planning will follow.

Great Barrier Reef, Credit: Sarah Ackerman

In depth case studies will be used to elucidate the most influential factors underpinning the design of conservation plans, through interviews with conservation planners in Australia, where SCP approaches are widespread.

New Forest pony. Credit: Emma McIntosh

Finally, a computational spatial prioritisation exercise will accompany the revision of management plans in the New Forest, southern England, to explore the relative importance of consultation and consideration of socio-cultural objectives in a complex socio-ecological system.

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