skip to content

Conservation Research Institute


Can Healthy Ecosystems Prevent Future Pandemics?

On Tuesday 14th July, in collaboration with Global Food Security, Cambridge Infectious Diseases and Punlic Health at Cambridge, The University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute hosted an inter-disciplinary online event that posed the question, 'Can healthy ecosystems prevent future pandemics?

Integrating the themes of global health (humans and animal), ecosystem resilience, biodiversity conservation, and food security, this online event brought experts together to share their perspectives on how the risk of future pandemics can be reduced through a better understanding of the complex interactions between health and natural systems.

The event was chaired by Professor Bhaskar Vira, Head of Department of Geography and Founder of the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute. Please find the speakers of the panel listed below:

  • Dr Shailaja Fennell, University Senior Lecturer in Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge. Dr Shailaja is a co-I on TIGR2ESS, a research programme to study how to improve crop productivity and water use, identify appropriate crops and farming practices for sustainable rural development, with funding of £7.8 million from the Global Challenges Fund of RCUK.
  • Professor Kate Jones is Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity at University College London and Director of the Nature-Smart Centre in the Institute of Future Living. Her research investigates the interface of ecological and human health, using statistical and mathematical modelling to understand the impact of global land use and climate change on ecological and human systems, with a particular focus on emerging infectious diseases.
  • Dr Rosalind Parkes-Ratanshi, University Lecturer in Public Heath, Cambridge Institute of Public Health. Dr Rosalind is a clinical academic with a research interest in sustaining HIV and STI care using innovation in Africa. She trained as a Clinical Lecturer in Genito-urinary Medicine at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College, London and holds an Honorary Contract at Cambridge University Foundation Hospital.
  • Professor James Wood, Head of Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge. James is a veterinary epidemiologist with research interests in emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases, especially bat transmitted viruses in sub-Saharan Africa and bovine tuberculosis. He is also Co-Chair of Cambridge Infectious Diseases Interdisciplinary Research Centre.

With over 150 attendees, this online event marked the beginning of a much wider discussion on how the degradation of our natural environment and changing behaviours have increased the risk of disease “spillover” from animals to humans. Those unable to attend the event can watch the ZOOM recording here:

Human interactions with wild and farmed animals must change dramatically to reduce risk of another deadly pandemic

Dr Silviu Petrovan led a team of international wildlife and veterinary experts on a new study identifying seven routes by which pandemics could occur and 161 options for reducing the risk. It concludes that widespread changes to the way we interact with animals are needed; solutions that only address one issue – such as the trade in wild animals – are not enough. Prof. Bill Sutherland discusses this work in a lecture available here.

The Office of External Affairs and Communications are looking to produce content that helps demonstrate how the University is responding to the pandemic. All of this will appear here... 

Please send any of the following to

  • Interesting research projects - this might be newly-funded research or where you are refocusing your work on COVID-19
  • Blog posts or opinion articles.
  • Researchers who might be interested in writing blog posts/opinion articles either directly about their research or commenting on particular aspects of the pandemic.
  • Examples of researchers/staff who involved in or leading projects outside their immediate research that relate to the crisis (eg in their local community).
  • Anything else that you think might be relevant.

Giving To Cambridge

The Director of UCCRI, Professor Bhaskar Vira, was recently involved in a Giving To Cambridge campaign event in London

Impact Through Engagement. Find out more about the impact through engagement programme.

Minecraft tree “probably” the tallest tree in the Tropics

A tree the height of 20 London double-decker buses has been discovered in Malaysia by conservation scientists monitoring the impact of human activity on the biodiversity of a pristine rainforest.
Project led by Professor David Coomes, Head of Forest Ecology and Conservation Group


Professor Laura Diaz Anadon on Energy Technology Innovation


Eureka Moments: Professor Andrew Balmford

Andrew Balmford's moment of discovery, which he shared with Professor Rhys Green, was the realization that the best way to conserve wild nature would almost certainly be to keep large areas of high-yielding agriculture completely separate from large areas of land completely committed to biodiversity conservation. This is known as land-sparing, in contrast to the alternative strategy of doing agriculture and conservation in more or less the same spatial area - land-sharing.

Endangered Landscapes Programme

In this 3-minute video, Professor Bill Adams from the Department of Geography talks about the importance, challenges and good practice in landscape restoration.

The Procurement Model

Professor Ian Hodge


From the Mayans to the Moors - University of Cambridge Research News

Conservation: Thinking outside the Box for Biodiversity and People

From the plight of the Ethiopian Bush Crow, to representation of nature in Winnie the Pooh, to the extinction of ancient Latin American languages, the wide breadth of research connected with biodiversity conservation at the University of Cambridge is reflected in a series of films released today.

We really want people to think out of the box in terms of how their work might relate to conservation and to contact us and find out about opportunities to collaborate with other researchers within the University, and with the organisations associated with the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. Could your work make a difference to conservation? 

The Naked Scientists

Conservation: why care?

Dr Bhaskar Vira, The University of Cambridge

Would you care about conserving an animal if it threatened your job, your food supply or even your life? This week, we unpick the hidden conflicts and controversies inside conservation, including the tragic fight to save the mountain gorillas, how to tackle poaching smartly and the lions who live in harmony with people. Plus, news of how engineers solved a medical dilemma and a look back at one of the world's greatest mathematical geniuses. 

Feature on conservation including message from Sir David Attenborough is from 26.44:  Listen Now    Download as mp3