Understanding why conservation professionals stay in or leave the conservation sector

Researcher names: Meshvi Shah, Thomas Pienkowski, E.J. Milner-Gulland, and Chloe Montes Strevens at the University of Oxford and Aidan Keane at the University of Edinburgh.

Period: June to September 2021

This research project is linked with the life in conservation project which can be found here.

Funder: Partly funded by the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford.

Thesis Overview: My thesis focuses on the experiences of conservation professionals that may make them leave or continue working in the conservation sector.

Outline of research: This study aims to find out why some conservationists end up leaving the sector, particularly those that still want to contribute to conservation. This, together with looking at the motivations behind continuing to work in the sector, can inform efforts to support the wellbeing of conservationists. The study also aims to identify if there are certain groups that face greater hurdles working in conservation, which can inform efforts to support those groups.


  1. What are the push and pull factors that conservation professionals experience in the conservation sector?
  2. Are there certain groups that are more likely to leave the sector?

Summary of planned activities: The study will collect data from conservation professionals that are currently working in conservation, those that have left the sector and those that have trained conservationists at a Masters level. Data will be collected through a series of interviews and a survey.

Take the survey here