Providing evidence to improve practice


What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessment of the effectiveness of interventions based on the summarized evidence in synopses. These assessments are available on the searchable database, and the full publication can be downloaded as a pdf or purchased from OpenBook Publishers.

Panels of experts have assessed the collated evidence for each intervention to determine its effectiveness, the certainty of the evidence and, in most cases, whether there are negative side-effects on the group of species or habitat of concern (harms). Using these assessments, interventions have been categorized, based on a combination of effectiveness (the size of benefit or harm) and certainty (the strength of the evidence). The following categories are used: Beneficial, Likely to be beneficial, Trade-off between benefit and harms, Unknown effectiveness, Unlikely to be beneficial, Likely to be ineffective or harmful.

What Works in Conservation 2017 provides assessments of the evidence in the following synopses: Amphibian Conservation, Bat Conservation, Bird Conservation, Farmland Conservation, Forest Conservation, Natural Pest Control, Soil Fertility and Control of Freshwater Invasive Species. It will be updated annually to include new evidence and cover additional taxa and habitats.

Using the assessments

It is important to remember that Conservation Evidence provides a summary of the evidence available for different conservation interventions, which should act as a starting point in deciding whether or not to carry out an intervention. The assessments provided by What Works in Conservation are based on the available evidence for the target group of species or habitat for each intervention. The assessment may therefore refer to different species or habitat to the one(s) you are considering. Before making any decisions about implementing interventions it is vital that you read the more detailed accounts of the evidence (both the action pages and if you want more details individual studies) in order to assess their relevance for your study species or system.

There may also be significant negative side-effects on the target groups or other species or communities that have not been identified in the assessments.

A lack of evidence means that we have been unable to assess whether or not an intervention is effective or has any harmful impacts.

For more information about the methods see FAQ:What Works in Conservation



A synopsis of evidence lists all the possible actions you could take to conserve a given species group or habitat, or to tackle a particular conservation issue.

For each action, it brings together the available scientific evidence with summary statements that are quick and easy to read. It describes each piece of evidence with references, and links to more information on our website.

Each synopsis is developed in partnership with an international advisory board of conservationists and researchers who specialise in that area.

For more information about the methods and evidence sources used for these synopses please see the methods page.

As well as those completed below, five global synopses are currently being produced on the conservation of carnivores, management of captive animals, primates, reptiles and wetlands. We are also working on conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in Mediterranean farmland.


Current synopses

Mediterranean Farmland

Mediterranean Farmland   Mediterranean Farmland - Published 2017

Management of Captive Animals

Management of Captive Animals   Management of Captive Animals - Published 2017

Forest Conservation

Forest Conservation   Forest Conservation - Published 2016

Addressing Priority Knowledge Needs for Sustainable Farming

  Addressing Priority Knowledge Needs for Sustainable Farming - Published 2015

Control of Freshwater Invasive Species

Control of Freshwater Invasive Species   Control of Freshwater Invasive Species - Published 2015

Bat Conservation

Bat Conservation   Bat Conservation - Published 2013

Amphibian Conservation

Amphibian Conservation   Amphibian Conservation - Published 2013

Sustainable Aquaculture

Sustainable Aquaculture   Sustainable Aquaculture - Published 2013

Soil Fertility

Soil Fertility   Soil Fertility - Published 2013

Natural Pest Control

Natural Pest Control   Natural Pest Control - Published 2013

Farmland Conservation

Farmland Conservation   Farmland Conservation - Published 2012

Bird Conservation

Bird Conservation   Bird Conservation - Published 2012

Bee Conservation

Bee Conservation   Bee Conservation - Published 2012

Coming soon

Reptile Conservation

Preview online

Carnivore Conservation

Preview online

Primate Conservation

Preview online