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Conservation Research Institute


EC rainforest thinner

One of the great challenges of the 21st century is to understand and manage human impacts on living organisms and ecosystems in the face of population growth, socio-economic development and anthropogenic climate change. Some of the biggest threats to biodiversity are over-consumption, over-exploitation and unsustainable use of living natural resources. Changing these drivers requires better understanding of nature and its values to people, coupled with developing and fostering practical steps to support economic, social and political transitions towards more equitable and effective stewardship of the planet.

UCCRI promotes interdisciplinary research and learning by bringing the natural sciences and technology into intellectual dialogue with the arts, humanities and social sciences. The Institute’s agenda focuses on creating understanding and finding solutions – in relation to the fundamental science of biodiversity change, the human activities that drive the loss of living diversity, and considering conservation itself as a highly complex set of ideas and practices.

The work programme for the Institute encompasses four broad areas of research, which cross-cut disciplinary and Departmental boundaries. Find out more about the themes:

  • Knowledge and expertise in conservation: Work under this theme addresses the role of knowledge and evidence in conservation decision making, policy and practice, as well as contested views on the science-policy interface. Research is sensitive to diverse forms of knowledge and expertise, ranging from the use of remote sensing and big data, to local, traditional and indigenous knowledge systems.
  • Conservation across protected and productive landscapes: Research under this theme focuses on alternative landscape management approaches, ranging from strict protection of natural and semi-natural areas to conversion and intensified production in agricultural systems, and the implications of these alternatives for the conservation of biological diversity, livelihoods and wellbeing. Work includes a focus on institutions and governance regimes, and a recognition of the complex political economy of decision making in coupled social and ecological systems.
  • Biodiversity in the Future Earth: This theme deals with how concerns about nature and the conservation of biological diversity engage with broader drivers of socioeconomic and environmental change. It is concerned, in particular, with understanding the historical, contemporary and future contexts for conservation as a contested social practice, as well as how novel approaches and technologies are changing conservation policy and practice.
  • The values of nature: This theme addresses how different value traditions contribute to an understanding of the role of nature in relation to health, wellbeing and prosperity. This includes an understanding of biodiversity in relation to ecosystem services and natural capital, as well as the roles  of nature in mitigating risk and vulnerability, and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.