conservationist | geographer | innovator | educator | birder



I believe that conservation needs vision – imaginings of futures that we can collectively aspire to create. I work up visions that blend emerging trends in science, technology and society with a sense of confidence, innovation and hope.


I design solutions that are situated – solutions that emerge from an understanding of the cultural assets and political realties of a place interacting with cutting-edge insight from interdisciplinary conservation science.


I engage with current debates within in conservation – through my writing, teaching and convening, I aim to stimulate and support an open, constructive and forward-looking dialogue between the values, ideologies and interest groups that make up our dynamic conservation movement.

Areas of Focus

Science-Policy Communication

I enjoy science communication and between 2009-2014 led this component of an EU freshwater biodiversity project. We launched the successful freshwater blog, developed a cutting-edge knowledge hub and experimented with art-science videos. Recently I have been researching the public acceptability of tree-breeding solution to ash dieback Through such activities I engage with theory on the design of effective interfaces between science, policy and publics.

Education and Dialogue

I am committed to educating and empowering a new generation of conservation professionals. In my role as MSc course director I have developed and delivered syllabuses, workshops and fieldtrips that promote critical and innovative thinking at the interface of the natural and social science and theory and practice. I also convene one-off events and symposia on emerging or topical themes.

Governing Wildlife Trade

When I led the BirdLife Indonesia programme in the 1990s I came to understand the bird trade from the perspectives of western conservationists, government management agencies, local people and traders. I have worked with local stakeholders to develop culturally-attuned approaches to governing wildlife trade and I regularly contribute to debates in this highly politicized arena of conservation policy.


In 2005 I travelled to Holland with my students to visit rewilding sites and meet with the radical Dutch conservationist involved. I was blown away and have been teaching, debating and writing about rewilding ever since. i am now active in efforts to create the policy space for rewilding to act.

New Technologies Forces

I generate creative ideas and tools to explore the transformative potential of new technological forces for conservation science and practice. These range from radial thought pieces such as opti-hunting to e-decision support designed to strengthen the environmental governance of capital markets. Together which Richard Ladle I defined the new research field of Conservation Culturomics.

Protected Area Policy

Earlier in my a career I specialised in the early phases of a reserve establishment working in the UK, Indonesia and Indochina. I did my doctorate on protected area policy and maintain an active research and teaching interest. I am developing a new PA asset framework to restate the policy case for PA and contrasting my Asian experience with work in Brazil.

Speaking Engagements


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Alagoas curassow: generating identity value from a species asset

It is a thoughtful moment looking into the eye of a bird that nearly went extinct.  As I crouched and observed an Alagoas curassow my first thought was a sense of deep gratitude to Pedro Mario Nardelli who in the late 1970s acted to rescue the last wild specimens and establish a captive population in

Photography is transforming British birdwatching

This article was first published in British Birds on 15 August 2017 One Sunday last July I strolled down to the hide at RSPB Otmoor, one of my local birding patches in Oxfordshire. Five years ago I might have entered an empty hide. Not anymore. The place was packed with bird photographers, happily chatting as

Back from the brink, but what next for Lear’s macaw?

In December 1978 the famous Brazilian ornithologist Helmut Sick made one of the ornithological discoveries of the 20th century. He located a breeding population of the fabulous Lear’s macaw   – a species that had been known in collections for 150 years but whose whereabouts in the wild was a mystery. Lear’s macaw is one

Paul in Action

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