As well as collating the documented evidence, we also work on numerous projects to make the use and application of this evidence easier. Below we list our current projects and collaborations.
Our published outputs can be found here.
The Evidence Champions
We run a partnership programme, The Evidence Champions, which you can read more about here. These are organisations that commit to evidence-based conservation and, in return, receive training and support from us to help them use evidence.
Many of these organisations have worked with us to identify barriers to evidence use and to develop a range of principles, tools and resources to help embed evidence in decision making.
The Evidence Toolkit
So far we have engaged with over 1,100 practitioners, policymakers, funders and others from across the world to identify needs and develop a range of principles, tools and resources to embed evidence in decision making. The goal being to deliver improved conservation practice leading to benefits for nature and society. For more details see Co-designing a toolkit for evidence-based decision making in conservation.
Evidence Assessment and Decision Support Tools
We are working with Evidence Champions to trial the use of new evidence assessment tools and decision support tools. This includes the Evidence-to-Decision tool (www.evidence2decisiontool.com), which is an initial template to encourage practitioners in conservation to transparently document the evidence and reasoning they use to make decisions. We are also working on evidence assessment tools that directly combine evidence from diverse sources (e.g., scientific and local/indigenous knowledge) to make evidence-based decisions by assessing the reliability and relevance of that evidence. This collaborative project has been initiated with Nick Salafsky, Foundations of Success, and Robyn Irvine, Parks Canada, and we welcome others to join us.
If you are interested in finding out more you can contact Alec Christie: email@example.com.
Metadataset (metadataset.com) aims to tackle one of the major issues faced in evidence synthesis; how to make global evidence relevant at local scales. Current methods of evidence synthesis, such as meta-analysis, typically answer questions at large (global) scales, e.g. “what is the effect of using crop rotations on soil health?”. Global syntheses like this are essential for informing evidence-based conservation. However, evidence users (e.g., conservation practitioners) often need to make decisions at local scales, and are interested in evidence related to their specific circumstances, e.g. “what is the effect of rotating maize with cassava in unfertilized fields in an arid climate?”. In these circumstances, it can be difficult to assess the relevance of global evidence at local scales.
Metadataset tries to address this problem using a new kind of evidence synthesis called dynamic meta-analysis, which enables evidence users to easily access and analyse evidence that is relevant to them (see our preprint on this here). Metadataset is an online tool, where users can filter and weight evidence based on their needs. Global results are recalculated to local scales using subgroup analysis, meta-regression, and recalibration. Dynamic meta-analysis enables evidence users to make decisions that are typically made by synthesists, e.g. which studies to include (critical appraisal) and how to handle missing data (sensitivity analysis). Therefore, it represents a rebalancing of power in evidence synthesis.
If you are interested in finding out more you can contact Alec Christie: firstname.lastname@example.org
AI for climate and nature
In collaboration with experts across the University of Cambridge, we have been awarded funding to leverage AI to combat the biodiversity and climate crises. We will be focussing on the use of evidence in conservation decision making. We will help decision-makers access and interpret information on suitable conservation solutions, by applying Large Language Models (LLMs) to proficiently find, curate, and synthesise evidence to update and expand the Conservation Evidence database. This will generate a living, dynamic resource capable of responding rapidly to decision-makers’ needs. To intuitively engage with this resource, we will integrate a ‘Conservation Copilot’ that we will co-design with key stakeholders. This will guide users with customised evidence assessments (e.g., using their location, habitat, and species of interest) to accelerate robust decision-making.
This project is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between Cambridge Zero, Cambridge Conservation Initiative, Conservation Evidence, Institute for Computing for Climate Science, Conservation Research Institute, Centre for Landscape Regeneration, Cambridge Centre for Carbon Credits and Cambridge Centre for Earth Observation.
Restoration and creation of tidal flats and salt marshes
We are working in collaboration with Wetlands International and the World Coastal Forum to develop evidence-based guidelines for the restoration and creation of tidal flats and salt marshes. Evidence for the effectiveness of actions included that summarised in Conservation Evidence Synopses. We also consulted with stakeholders across the globe to incorporate their experience into the guidance, and ensure it meet the needs of target users.
If you are interested in finding out more you can contact Vanessa Cutts: email@example.com.
Seabird conservation in the face of climate change
We worked in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London to develop evidence-based guidelines for the conservation of European seabirds in the face of climate change. We produced a set of species-specific guidance documents that outline (a) evidence for vulnerability of the species to climate change, e.g. known impacts of climate change, traits that confer sensitivity to climate change, predicted future habitat suitability, and (b) potential conservation actions and evidence for the effectiveness of these, drawing on the Conservation Evidence Bird Synopsis. We held workshops and discussions with stakeholders across Europe to incorporate their experience into the guidance, and ensure it meet the needs of our target users. The guidance is freely available, ro read and download, here: https://www.openbookpublishers.com/books/10.11647/obp.0343
If you are interested in finding out more you can contact Nigel Taylor: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cost-Effectiveness of Actions to Mitigate the Impact of Power Line Infrastructure on At-Risk Bird Species
Working with Birdlife International, we conducted a project to collate information on the effectiveness, costs and feasibility of different interventions to mitigate the impact of power line infrastructure on bird species at high risk of collisions and electrocutions. We have worked to develop a detailed case study that compares the cost-effectiveness of different construction scenarios and mitigation techniques (including rerouting, placing the line underground and bird flight divertors).
If you are interested in finding out more you can contact Tom White: Tom.White@thebiodiversityconsultancy.com
The Cost-Effectiveness of Agricultural Interventions for Biodiversity
Working with YAGRO, Conservation Evidence have investigated the costs and cost-effectiveness of different actions to protect biodiversity on farmland in the UK. This includes commonly applied measures such as buffer strips, wildflower strips and wild bird seed plots. The results of the project have highlighted the high variability in the costs and effects of different actions, which vary depending on how both effects and costs are measured. Such information could be integrated into decision support tools for farmers and governments who want to efficiently and effectively conserve biodiversity on agricultural land.
If you are interested in finding out more you can contact Tom White: Tom.White@thebiodiversityconsultancy.com
Cool Farm Tool
Integrating globally-recognised sustainability metrics for tropical perennial crops in a one-stop shop
This project aims to expand the ability of the Cool Farm Alliance’s Cool Farm Tool – a science-based decision support tool that assesses the sustainability of farming practices – to allow it to be used by farmers in the global south, with a particular focus on perennial crops. Perennial crops make up 30% of global croplands, are some of our key food commodity crops, and are very important to hundreds of thousands of smallholder producers across the tropics, but Cool Farm Tool modules are not yet fully in place for these systems.
This NERC funded project aims to develop all the necessary modules to report carbon and water footprints, and biodiversity impacts of farming strategies used within tropical perennial systems. The project will then test the modules across a range of crops (sugarcane, mango, coffee, orange, banana, tea, grapes, and avocado) in collaboration with businesses that are members of the Cool Farm Alliance and the Wellcome Trust funded Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) Project in India and South Africa. Specifically it will:
Add new soil carbon stock factors for perennial crops to existing Cool Farm Tool modules
- Adapt the existing water footprinting module of the Cool Farm Tool to perennials
- Develop a biodiversity module for tropical forest biome agriculture
- Combine the carbon stock, water footprint, and biodiversity module developments into an integrated tool, and pilot it in India and South Africa
The Conservation Evidence database will play a crucial role in the development of the biodiversity module for tropical forest biome agriculture by providing an easy-to-access repository of available published evidence about the effectiveness of different agricultural management strategies for supporting biodiversity. This evidence will underpin the design of the management actions that are included in the tool and the scores that they receive for how biodiversity-friendly they are.
The project is led by:
Jon Hillier, University of Edinburgh
Lynn Dicks, University of Cambridge
Alan Dangour, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Richard Heathcoate, Cool Farm Alliance
Sarah Luke, University of Cambridge
The Conservation Learning Initiative
As part of its legacy and efforts to share its experiences, the MAVA Foundation challenged Foundations of Success and Conservation Evidence to join forces to make the most of the conservation data that MAVA had accumulated over the years. A basic approach for evidence-based conservation learning was developed. At the same time, evidence was collected from the MAVA project portfolio and from published literature on four widely used conservation strategies: capacity-building, partnerships and alliances, flexible funding, and research and monitoring. The results of this joint initiative are presented in a new website, Conservation Learning. The website is intended for all conservationists – practitioners, scientists, and funders alike – whether you are interested in the approach to practice evidence-based conservation learning, or in the findings about widely used strategies to support conservation.