Student Conference on Conservation Science

Keynote speakers

Professor Rhys Green

Professor Rhys Green


 Rhys Green is a Professor of Conservation Science at the University of Cambridge and Principal Conservation Scientist at      the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). He studies the effects of human activities such as farming, climate  modification, pollution and conservation management on populations of wild species. For more than thirty years, a large part  of his research work for the RSPB was focussed on how farming methods could be adapted to allow wild birds living on  farmland to do better and be more likely to have high populations alongside food production. Often doing this involves the  farmers producing a bit less food than they would otherwise do and being compensated for the loss by governments or  conservation agencies. More recently, he has realised that it might also be important to produce the food and the other agricultural products that people require on as little land as possible, and to use as much of the spared land as possible for the retention and restoration of natural habitats that many wild species cannot live without. The conflict between modifying farming methods so as to share farmland with wild species, but by doing so potentially placing species that need natural habitats at greater risk is a real personal dilemma for him. With colleagues in Cambridge, he set up a research programme to collect hard evidence about whether the dilemma really exists and, if it does, how it can be resolved.


Dr. Zsolt Molnár

 Zsolt Molnár (born in 1966 in Hungary, married, two children) is a scientific advisor at the MTA Centre for Ecological  Research. He is a botanist and ethnoecologist, leading the „Traditional Ecological Knowledge” Research Group. He is a  member of the IPBES Indigenous and Local Knowledge Task Force. His main interests are land-use and vegetation history  of the Hungarian Plain (1780-present), the development of habitat classifications, mapping of actual habitats (MÉTA-  database), and studying trends of Natura 2000 habitats (1780-2010). In recent years his main research focus is traditional  ecological knowledge of herders and farmers in Hungary, Romania and Central Asia. He is studying traditional grassland  management in the Carpathians in Romania and the lowlands of Hungary, and how locals perceive landscape change and  ecosystem services, and how this knowledge could contribute to more efficient conservation management, biodiversity  monitoring and conservation and agricultural policy. He is teaching at several universities, e.g. by leading field courses and research summer camps.


Professor David Kleijn

 David Kleijn heads the Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation group at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. His  research aims to understand the causes of biodiversity declines and identify sustainable conservation strategies. Because  most of the European countryside is farmed in one way or another, the central theme of his research is best described as  biodiversity and nature conservation in agricultural habitats. Many of his studies evaluate the effectiveness of conservation  instruments such as agri-environment schemes and explore which environmental or human factors influence the outcome  of conservation actions using plants, invertebrates and birds as model species groups. Lately, he has become interested in t  the useful of the ecosystem services concept as a tool to interest farmers in biodiversity conservation. At the same time the  limitations of ecosystem services as a conservation paradigm is critically examined.




Dr. Piero Visconti

Piero Visconti is a Research Fellow at the Zoological Society of London and University College London, UK. He is a lead author of the IPBES Regional Assessment for Europe and Central Asia and President of the Society for Conservation Biology - Europe Section. His work aims to understand how ecosystems’ functions and structure change with habitat loss, and whether we can predict, for a given system, the existence of levels of loss of native vegetation beyond which ecosystems cannot recover to their original state. He uses mechanistic general ecosystem models applied to past observed environmental conditions, as well as forcing the models under different scenarios of land use change to explore the likely ecological impacts of different socio-economic pathways. Recently, he has become interested in developing and applying target-seeking scenarios, which trace multiple sustainable socio-economic pathways that lead to a desirable future. He is establishing an interdisciplinary research programme aiming to develop the next generation of biodiversity scenarios to inform sustainability policies.