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University of Cambridge – Department of Zoology

Dr Claire Wordley presenting Conservation Evidence’s website to a conference delegate. Courtesy of Conservation Evidence.

Conservation Evidence

$1,600,000; 2009–2020

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Conservation Evidence helps conservation practitioners make effective decisions for the management of biodiversity. It summarizes and assesses the latest research on conservation interventions and makes it easily accessible. Based at the Departement of Zoology at the University of Cambridge, the team is led by Professor William Sutherland, who we also support as the Miriam Rothschild Professor of Conservation Biology.

Evidence-based policy puts rigorous scientific practice at the heart of decision-making. A wide range of organizations work to protect and manage species and ecosystems around the globe. To make their interventions successful, they must learn from past experiences and consider effective practice. For a long time, evidence for the effectiveness of conservation interventions was difficult to find. It was hidden in organizational reports, locked behind paywalls in academic journals, or simply kept in the minds of experienced practitioners. Even where available, individual studies offer an incomplete picture of the state of knowledge available on a particular topic.

Conservation Evidence was set up to give busy conservationists and policymakers free and easy access to the latest scientific knowledge to support and improve their work restoring biodiversity. Its website provides synopses on topics such as soil fertility, sustainable aquaculture, bird conservation and management of captive animals. The synopses help save practitioners’ time and resources, ensuring quick access to the most relevant information.

An annual publication, What Works in Conservation (now in its third edition), provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of interventions. Conservation practitioners can also read and contribute to Conservation Evidence’s open access peer-reviewed journal, which publishes research, monitoring results and case studies on the effects of conservation actions. To date, more than 340 papers have been published in the journal, covering studies from around 50 countries – all free for anyone to read.

Dissemination and partnerships are key to Conservation Evidence’s success. Evidence Champions are organizations that are committed to using Conservation Evidence resources in their work. Current champions include Oryx – The International Journal of Conservation, Froglife and the New Zealand Sustainability Dashboard Project. Recently, Conservation Evidence reached Westminster, when an article – Evidence complacency hampers conservation – was cited during a House of Lords’ debate on the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.

Download What Works in Conservation 2018.

Learn more about our environmental grants.

  • Sir David Attenborough with What Works in Conservation 2015. Courtesy of Conservation Evidence.
  • Synopses of evidence for conservation that have been published in 2018/19. Courtesy of Conservation Evidence.
  • The Conservation Evidence Team
  • Each year a synthesis of the effectiveness of hundreds of conservation actions is published in ‘What Works in Conservation’. It is available online and is open access. Courtesy of Conservation Evidence.
  • is home to a searchable database of syntheses of the available evidence on thousands of conservation actions, publications of ‘What Works in Conservation’ and the journal Conservation Evidence.