skip to primary navigationskip to content

Dr Chris Sandbrook

Departments and Institutes


Research Interests

I am a political ecologist with diverse research interests around a central theme of biodiversity conservation and its relationship with society. My current research activities can be divided into three themes: (i) investigating the relationship between conservation and development at the landscape scale in developing countries, (ii) investigating the role of values and evidence in shaping the decisions of conservationists and their organisations, and (iii) investigating the social and political implications of new technologies for conservation.

Under the first theme I am a co-investigator in Sustainable Poverty Alleviation from Coastal Ecosystem Services (SPACES), a three-year collaborative research project running from 2013-17. Funded by ESPA, this project, led by colleagues at UEA and the University of Exeter, is investigating trade-offs between ecosystem services on the coasts of Kenya and Mozambique. I am leading the tourism research component. I also supervise three PhD students who are working on the relationship between conservation, agriculture and food security in landscapes in India, Peru and Uganda, and a fourth working on conservation and development corridors in Tanzania.

Under the second theme I have ongoing research interests in the values held by conservationists, particularly with respect to the use of market-based mechanisms in conservation, and the role of evidence in conservation, including evidence for biodiversity-poverty linkages. I am the lead researcher on the Future of Conservationproject, the first large scale global survey of values held by conservationists. I am also interested in the challenge of interdisciplinary and intersectoral communication in conservation - an issue particularly important to me having made the transition from natural to social science during my career.

Under the third theme, I am interested in the implications of digital games for conservation, and the potential social and political implications of the increasing use of surveillance technologies (such as drones and camera traps) in conservation, particularly in the global south. As well as conducting research on games, I am an Advisor to Internet of Elephants, a startup social enterprise that is seeking to deliver conservation impact through the gamification of wildlife movement data.

A cross-cutting theme in much of my work is the role of market-based instruments in conservation. This began with my PhD, which investigated the impacts of nature-based tourism at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. I continue to have an interest in tourism, and I have also worked on REDD+.

I am strongly committed to building capacity in conservation, particularly among future conservation leaders. I contribute to this process through my work on the Masters in Conservation Leadership at the University of Cambridge, and through ongoing involvement in capacity development work across the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.

I am an Associate Editor for Conservation and Society, a Handling Editor for Conservation Biology, and a Board member of the Social Science Working Group of the Society for Conservation Biology.

Filed under: