Understanding The Role of Social Components in the Implementation of Systematic Conservation Planning and No Net Loss


Period: October 2013 – October 2017

Funder National Environmental Research Council

PhD Project: Sam Lloyd

Researchers: EJ Milner-Gulland and Andrew Knight


South African Biodiversity Institute

Cape Nature

Ezemvelo Kwazulu Natal Wildlife


My research interests:

samMy education has been largely scientific whilst my career has largely centered on highly practical project management. As a result, I am interested in how science can be used to solve problems in practical ways.

I’ve found that many good ideas don’t survive contact with “real world” issues so I try to use my scientific education and my experiences getting hands on in the field to understand how to make useful tools.


Current research:

In many countries the main vehicle for making trade-off decisions about conservation is environmental impact assessment (EIA) (Jay et al. 2007). A characteristic of EIA is that decisions are made on a case by case basis.

The conservation value of an area can be undervalued if a site is considered in isolation, for example wildlife corridors may consist of an unthreatened habitat but provide an essential service to national biodiversity (Beier & Noss 2008). This can lead to trade-offs being made which are optimal at the immediately local level but not at a regional, national or international level (Brownlie et al. 2013). To address this issue systematic national or regional level plans which inform trade-off decisions at a local level have been proposed in many countries.

samSouth Africa has led the field by developing spatial biodiversity prioritisations (SBP) at national and regional levels which inform local trade-off decisions (Cowling et al. 1999; Cowling et al. 2003; Knight, Cowling, et al. 2006). In theory, by better understanding the benefit to society of biodiversity and natural land uses, these prioritisations will regulate trade-off decisions made by individuals to ensure wider social benefits are not lost for individual gain (Driver et al. 2003; Cowling et al. 2003).

This system has been established in South Africa however it has not been evaluated. My current research is to evaluate this systems effectiveness in order to inform both the process in South Africa and the field globally.





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