Northwestern Events Calendar


"Decision Science for Conservation" (Hugh Possingham - Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy)

When: Monday, May 14, 2018
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM Central

Where: Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center, ITW Classroom, 2133 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Mike McMahon   847.467.1361

Group: ISEN

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Event is co-hosted by Northwestern Engineering and the Institute for Sustainability and Energy (ISEN).

ABSTRACT: Conservation science has progressed rapidly over the past few decades. The primary purpose of conservation research is to gather credible knowledge to assist with management and policy. Unfortunately, decision science, which is the science of how to make decisions in all fields, is rarely used with conservation science. In this talk I will discuss applications of simple mathematical tools that have transformed nature conservation in The Nature Conservancy and around the world. I go on to discuss the value of data and research in conservation. A great deal of science in the name of conservation appears to have limited immediate utility when seen through the decision-making lens.

BIO: On November 14th 2016 Hugh became The Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental non-government organization. He is based in Arlington, Virginia (USA) and Brisbane (Australia).
His expertise is in ecology, applied mathematics, spatial planning, operations research and economic instruments for conservation outcomes.
Hugh and Dr Barry Traill wrote “The Brigalow Declaration”, used by Premier Beattie to more than halve land clearing in Queensland thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Australia by more than 5% per annum and saving one million acres per year from conversion which amounts to saving 20 million birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians per year.
The Possingham lab uses mathematics to formulate and solve problems for saving plants, animals and ecosystems. They developed the most widely used conservation planning software in the world. Marxan was used to underpin the rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef and is currently used in over 150 countries by over 6000 users – from the UK and USA to Malaysia and Brazil – to build the world’s marine and terrestrial landscape plans. Marxan can be used to achieve conservation outcomes while maximizing development opportunities. In addition, many governments and ENGOs use the group’s research for the allocation of funding to threatened species recovery and solving other conservation conundrums. Marxan has assisted the conservation rezoning of about 5% of the planet.

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