Previous conference - Workshop outlines

As in previous years, we held two Conference workshop sessions and offered nine 90-minute workshops, two of which were held twice. We invited experts on some of the practical skills important to graduate students to present workshops with a “how to…” focus.



Workshop A: A Basic Introduction to Statistics for Conservation Science

(Session 2 only: 23 March)


Alison Johnston

British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford, Norfolk, UK


The use of appropriate statistical methods is an essential part of conservation science. This is an introductory-level workshop. We will explore some basic statistical principles and best practice in statistical analyses. The workshop will be general and will include basic information on several topics, including statistical significance, uncertainty, pseudoreplication and communicating your results by drawing good graphs.




Workshop B: Conservation, communities and social diversity

(Sessions 1 & 2)


David Thomas and Billy Fairburn

BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK


The conservation community is increasingly aware that the ways in which people think about, relate to, use and govern natural resources are key determinants of conservation outcomes. Communities are heterogeneous – households and individuals will have varying relationships with natural resources and biodiversity depending on their rights, responsibilities, interests, incentives and opportunities for decision-making, access and participation relating to the conservation and use of natural resources. Recognising this diversity and complexity is an important step to promoting sustainable natural resource use. This workshop will discuss community and social diversity in the context of conservation, drawing on the personal experiences of participants. The workshop provides an introduction to these issues, and as such it would mainly suit those whose training to date has been mostly in the natural sciences.



Workshop C: Biodiversity and development projects: striking the balance between science and practice in biodiversity offset design

(Sessions 1 & 2)


Robin Mitchell & Eugenie Regan

The Biodiversity Consultancy, Cambridge, UK


Biodiversity offsetting refers to schemes designed to compensate for adverse impacts of development projects, such as wind farms, roads or ports, on biodiversity, so as to avoid them causing long-term biodiversity losses. To compensate for any loss, they must create additional equivalent biodiversity somewhere nearby: by planting a woodland, digging a wetland, restoring degraded native grassland, increasing the productivity of fish spawning habitat, and so forth. Offsetting is becoming a widespread tool in biodiversity management and many countries have enacted laws or introduced policies requiring biodiversity offsets for the impacts of certain kinds of development projects. Yet there are many practical challenges to the effective design and implementation of offsets. This workshop will introduce the current science and practice of offset design and students will work through an example in small groups. This will be followed by an open discussion on the challenges and limitations of offsetting and participants own experiences of it. Attendees will come away with an understanding of the scientific principles and process behind offset schemes as well as an idea of the stakeholder-led compromises that need to be made to achieve optimal compensatory outcomes.


Workshop D: Raising funds for your conservation project

(Session 1 only: 22 March)


Dr Rosie Trevelyan,

Tropical Biology Association, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge


Getting money for your project can be a matter of being in the right place at the right time. This workshop assumes you are not. Why is it that everyone you meet seems to have a grant and you do not? I will outline how to write a grant proposal, giving examples of good practice and bad practice and some tips on what referees like and dislike. We will also look at fund-raising strategies. Finally, we will put theory into practice by trying out some of the techniques introduced to-day.


Workshop E: Planning a conservation research programme

(Session 1 only: 22 March)


William J. Sutherland

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge


Some conservation research programmes are unsuccessful due to unpredictable circumstances such as illness, unusual weather or unforeseeable political problems. Many others could never be successful as they were poorly planned. A small amount of sensible planning can make considerable differences. In this workshop we will use a series of exercises to demonstrate a process called reverse planning.



Workshop F: Practical Conservation Genetics

(Sessions 1 & 2)


Bill Amos

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge


The role of genetics in conservation is often misunderstood.  Some seem to believe genetic analysis is close to magic, while others take the view that gathering genetic data is an expensive waste of effort.  Equally, some see genetics as playing a central role in dictating the health of a population, while others feel it is less important. This workshop aims to give an overview as to what can and cannot be done using current methods.  It will also explore some of the key areas of misunderstanding.  Although the primary presentation will be in the form of a lecture, I hope people will bring along their own questions that can be discussed in an open forum.


Workshop G: How to write a scientific paper, or How to avoid Snoopy's problem...

(Sessions 1 & 2)


Martin Fisher

Editor of Oryx, Fauna & Flora International, Cambridge



Would you like this to be you? Are you determined that your first scientific paper will be rejected (so many are!)?  Attend this workshop to find out how to ensure that this happens... or perhaps even how to avoid it...


Common pitfalls, glaringly obvious errors, verbosity - all these and more easy strategies to ensure that you receive your first rejection slip will be covered in painful detail...


It's the final year of your PhD, you've finally gathered some data, and you are going to be famous... well, at least you plan to write your first scientific paper... Do yourself a favour, do the Editor a favour, attend this workshop!



Workshop H: Common pitfalls of social survey design and how to avoid them

(Session 1 only: 22 March)


Julia P. G. Jones

School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University


Many conservation scientists come from a natural science background but there is increasing awareness that successful conservation is interdisciplinary and must use knowledge and methods developed by the social sciences. Conservation scientists may need to collect quantitative data on aspects of human livelihoods e.g. estimates of volumes and spatial patterns of harvesting of a target species may be needed to quantify the sustainability of the harvest, or the likely socio-economic impacts on local people of efforts to reduce the harvest. They may also seek to understand people’s attitudes, social norms and other possible influences on their behaviour. All surveys need to be designed to ensure the target population is successfully sampled, that biases are considered and minimised and ethical implications considered. In this brief workshop we will focus on how to minimize bias in a quantitative social survey. The workshop would particularly suit conservationists whose training to date has been mostly in the natural sciences but all are welcome.



Workshop I: Use of evidence-based conservation

(Session 2 only: 23 March)


William J. Sutherland, Lynn Dicks, Nancy Ockendon and Rebecca Smith

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge


Evidence-based conservation provides a means of evaluating, reviewing and disseminating global information to improve conservation practice. In this workshop we will describe the principles of evidence-based conservation, how it can be used to improve practice and how you can participate.



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