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Conservation Research Institute



Trained as an economist, Bhaskar’s  research is concerned, in particular, with the often-hidden costs of environmental and developmental processes, and the need for scholarship to draw attention to the distributional consequences of public policy choices. His work brings a critical political economy perspective to contemporary debates in relation to ecosystem services and natural capital, and the values of nature for human wellbeing. He has over twenty five years of experience working on conservation, environment and development issues in India. In 2018, he was honoured with the Royal Geographical Society’s Busk Medal, in recognition of his contributions to interdisciplinary research on environment and development.


Political economy; environment and development; governance of natural resources; forests and ecosystem services; natural capital.


Key publications: 

Vogl, A.L., Goldstein, J.H., Daily, G.C., Vira, B., Bremer, L., McDonald, R.I., Shemie, D., Tellman, B. and Cassin, J., 2017. Mainstreaming investments in watershed services to enhance water security: Barriers and opportunities. Environmental Science and Policy, v. 75, p.19-27. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2017.05.007

Kovacs, E.K., Kumar, C., Agarwal, C., Adams, W.M., Hope, R.A. and Vira, B., 2016. The politics of negotiation and implementation: A reciprocal water access agreement in the Himalayan foothills, India. Ecology and Society, v. 21, doi:10.5751/ES-08462-210237

Vira, B., Wildburger, C. and Mansourian, S., 2015. Forests and Food Addressing Hunger and Nutrition Across Sustainable Landscapes, Open Book Publishers. 288pp.

Blanchard, L., Vira, B. and Briefer, L., 2015. The lost narrative: Ecosystem service narratives and the missing Wasatch watershed conservation story. Ecosystem Services, v. 16, p.105-111. doi:10.1016/j.ecoser.2015.10.019

Vira, B., 2015. Taking natural limits seriously: Implications for development studies and the environment. Development and Change, v. 46, p.762-776. doi:10.1111/dech.12175

Bose, A., Garcia, C., & Vira, B. (2019). Mottled motivations and narrow incentives: Exploring limitations of direct incentive policies in the Western Ghats, India. Ecological Economics, 156, 511–518.

Vira, B., & Schneider, H. (2019). Biodiversity conservation initiatives have unfulfilled potential to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Oryx, 53(1), 15.

Schleicher, J., Schaafsma, M., & Vira, B. (2018). Will the Sustainable Development Goals address the links between poverty and the natural environment? Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 34, 43–47.

Milbank, C., Coomes, D., & Vira, B. (2018). Assessing the progress of REDD+ projects towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Forests, 9(10), 589.

Carmenta, R., & Vira, B. (2018). Integration for restoration: Reflecting on lessons learned from the silos of the past. In Forest Landscape Restoration (pp. 16–36). Routledge.

Burns, J., Feger, C., Mermet, L., Vira, B., Addison, P., Barker, R., … Cuckston, T. (2018). Four priorities for new links between conservation science and accounting research. Conservation Biology.

Whittaker, L., Kovacs, E. K., & Vira, B. (2018). Reciprocal commitments for addressing forest–water relationships. In Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation (OPEN ACCESS) (pp. 126–141). Routledge.

Blanchard, L., Sandbrook, C. G., Fisher, J. A., & Vira, B. (2018). Investigating the Consistency of a Pro-market Perspective Amongst Conservationists. In The Anthropology of Conservation NGOs (pp. 151–180). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Phalan, B., Hayes, G., Brooks, S., Marsh, D., Howard, P., Costelloe, B., … Whitaker, S. (2018). Avoiding impacts on biodiversity through strengthening the first stage of the mitigation hierarchy. Oryx, 52(2), 316–324.

Ellison, D., Claassen, M., Van Noordwijk, M., Sullivan, C. A., Vira, B., Xu, J., … Haywood, L. K. (2018). Governance options for addressing changing forest-water relations. International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).

Vira, B., Ellison, D., McNulty, S. G., Archer, E. R. M., Bishop, K., Claassen, M., … Martin-Ortega, J. (2018). Management options for dealing with changing forest-water relations. International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).

Green, J. M. H., Cranston, G. R., Sutherland, W. J., Tranter, H. R., Bell, S. J., Benton, T. G., … Vira, B. (2017). Research priorities for managing the impacts and dependencies of business upon food, energy, water and the environment. Sustainability Science.

Teaching and Supervisions

  • Geographical Tripos (undergraduate)
  • MPhil in Conservation Leadership

Other Professional Activities

  • Fellow and Graduate Tutor, Fitzwilliam College
  • Council Member, Fauna & Flora International
  • Trustee, Gates Cambridge Trust

Geographical region

South Asia
South East Asia
Professor of Political Economy
Director, University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute