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Cambridge Forum for Sustainability and the Environment



Neil’s role is to oversee the work of the Science Programme at UNEP-WCMC, working at the science-policy interface. The Science Programme delivers both novel and policy relevant science on: biodiversity; ecosystem services; human pressures; ecosystem modeling; international targets; and biological and social-science linkages. The programme also supports the work of the entire Center with inputs on scientific design, approach, application, and analysis. Neil’s role also entails cross programmatic project development and quality control of products as they are being produced.

As the Head of Science Neil provides an input into multiple projects on: indicators for global conventions; protected areas; climate change and impacts on species and habitats; ecosystem services mapping and valuation; training and capacity building; mapping threats; poverty and livelihood dimensions of conservation; community-based conservation; and measuring impacts of conservation.

Neil’s professional experience has covered academia; non-governmental organization science programmes; and field conservation project development, management and implementation in Africa. Over many years this work has sought to bridge the divide between academic science and practical field scientific needs. Increasingly this has also sought to bridge the gap between social and biological sciences in relation to conservation and societal questions, and the divide between academic science and policy-relevant science.

This ranges from on the ground work to manage reserves or engage communities to working within international processes such as the programme of work on protected areas in the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and issues surrounding forest carbon and the implementation of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As a result, he has worked on collaborative projects with NGOs (WWF, BirdLife, Conservation International, IUCN), Governments (Tanzania) and with a number of UN agencies.

Neil also supervises and examines Masters and PhD students in addition to providing technical input to field projects working on REDD+, protected area development, community-based conservation, and monitoring conservation impacts on the ground in Tanzania.

Head of Science at UNEP-WCMC,
Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Copenhagen
Professor Neil  Burgess
Not available for consultancy


Person keywords: 
community engagement
forest carbon and the implementation of REDD
the interface between science and practical conservation action
protected areas and reserve management
biodiversity conservation