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Department of Geography


Professor Chris Sandbrook

Professor of Conservation & Society and Fellow of Darwin College
Director of the MPhil in Conservation Leadership



  • 2022-present: Professor of Conservation & Society and Director of the MPhil in Conservation Leadership, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2017-2022: Senior Lecturer in Geography and Director of the MPhil in Conservation Leadership, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2010-2017: Lecturer in Conservation Leadership, UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre and Affiliated Lecturer at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2009-2010: Independent Consultant, International Institute for Environment and Development
  • 2008-2009: ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2006-2008: Independent Consultant, International Institute for Environment and Development & International Gorilla Conservation Program


  • PhD Anthropology, University College London
  • MSc Integrative Biosciences, University of Oxford
  • MA Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge


I am a conservation social scientist with a range of research interests around the central theme of biodiversity conservation and its relationship with society. My current research investigates (i) the relationship between conservation and development in theory and practice, (ii) the values and viewpoints of conservationists and how these influence conservation action, and (iii) the social and political implications of digital technologies for conservation.

Under the first theme I lead the Social Implications of 30×30 Project, with funding from the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP). Working with Post-Doctoral Research Associate Dr Javier Fajardo and a working group of global experts, we are conducting analysis to explore the positive and negative implications of different approaches for scaling-up area-based conservation globally and in Uganda as a specific country case study. Under this theme I also supervise the doctoral research of Valerio Donfrancesco, who is working on relations between humans and wolves in Italy, Chloe King, who is working on tourism and degrowth in the Galápagos Islands, Natalie Carter, who is working on the gendered impacts of area-based conservation in Northern Uganda, and Inés Hernández, who is working on the relationship between humans and non-humans among Indigenous peoples who have migrated to New York City.

Under the second theme I am the lead researcher on the Future of Conservation project, the first large scale global survey of values held by conservationists. I also lead the spin-off GO-FOX project, which enables groups and organisations to identify and reflect on their conservation viewpoints values. Under this theme I am also working as a Co-Investigator for the NERC Centre for Landscape Regeneration, which is using a modified version of the Future of Conservation Survey to explore the values of various actors involved in landscape scale conservation in the Cambridgeshire Fens and Cumbria regions of England. I supervise two doctoral students working under this theme: Fleur Winn, who is investigating how an international conservation NGO understands and works with local stakeholders in Kenya, and Alice Lawrence, who is studying how conservation organisations understand and mobilise the concept of transformation.

Under the third theme, I focus on social and political issues raised by the use of surveillance technologies (such as drones and camera traps) in conservation, particularly in the global south. I supervised the doctoral research of Trishant Simlai, who worked on surveillance technology and conservation in India. I am also an Advisor to Internet of Elephants, a social enterprise that is seeking to deliver conservation impact through the gamification of wildlife movement data.

Supervision of graduate students

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students. Please look at my current and recent research interests and my current graduate students, then get in touch with me with your ideas about research topics that I may be able to supervise.


[​Publications will be loaded automatically from the University’s publications database…]


I am strongly committed to building capacity in conservation, particularly among future conservation leaders. I contribute to this process through my work as Director of the Cambridge Masters in Conservation Leadership, and through ongoing involvement in capacity development work across the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.

At the undergraduate level I teach on the final year geography papers Political Ecology of the Global South and Life Within Limits.

External activities

I am a member of the Social Science Expert Panel for Natural England. I am a member of the governing Council of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, which I chaired in 2021-22.

I am an Associate Editor for Conservation and Society and a member of the Editorial Board for Oryx. I have previously served as a Handling Editor for Conservation Biology and Secretary of the Board of the Social Science Working Group of the Society for Conservation Biology.

As well as doing formal research, I have a strong interest in applying research recommendations to the real world. In 2006 I helped to establish Bwindi Advanced Market Gardeners’ Association (AMAGARA), a farming cooperative which aims to increase the access of local farmers living around Bwindi to the market for produce provided by the tourist lodges in the area. I continue to work closely with multiple conservation organisations, particularly through the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.