Københavns Universitet
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PhD thesis defense

Scott Alan Ford, IGN, defends his thesis at Geography Section about Protected-Area Dynamics

PhD thesis defense — 11 May at 13:15


Date & Time:

Aud B, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 Kbh K

Hosted by:
Geography Section


Scott Alan Ford defends his thesis,

Protected-Area Dynamics
Patterns, drivers, and environmental outcomes of changes in protected-area boundaries and designations

Zoom link

Professor Ole Mertz, IGN
Associate Professor Martin Rudbeck Jepsen, IGN
Dr. Naomi Kingston, UNEP-WCMC
Dr. Thomas Brooks, IUCN
Dr Brian MacSharry, The European Environmental Agency

Assessment Committee:
Professor Tobias Kümmerle, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, Aarhus University
Associate Professor Stéphanie Horion (chair), IGN

Among the most widely implemented strategies to combat global biodiversity loss is the establishment of protected areas. While protected-area coverage seems to have expanded rapidly in recent decades, researchers are now beginning to highlight cases where site protection has been removed. Indeed, it is becoming clear that protected areas are not static elements on the landscape, and in fact their boundaries and designations can change frequently over time. This thesis seeks to document the patterns, drivers, and environmental outcomes of recent trends in protected-area dynamics, and presents this work in three original research articles. The first article presents a new approach designed to track changes in protected-area coverage, and documents these changes at the global scale since 2010. The analysis reveals that losses in site protection may be more widespread than previously believed. However, the results also suggest that much of the apparent loss in site protection may be related to data quality issues, indicating that the use of global protected-area data to inform conservation actions and policy must be performed with care. The second article presents a case study of losses in site protection in Cambodia. This work reveals that social conditions in Cambodia led to a free-market economic shift in the early 1990’s that spurred private investment in agriculture and forestry-based industries. Land within protected sites was granted to investors, and environmental safeguards were circumvented in several cases. Accordingly, losses in site protection in the Cambodian context have significantly increased rates of deforestation and forest fragmentation, and have potentially undermined conservation efforts for dozens of threatened species. The final article presented in this thesis assesses the potential impact of increasing site protection, by assessing patterns of deforestation leakage surrounding protected sites in tropical and subtropical forest regions. The results do indicate that deforestation leakage is more widespread than previously believed, occurring in 46% of studied cases. This indicates a strong need for decision makers to consider the context, and potential for deforestation leakage when designing new site-based conservation interventions. In documenting the patterns, drivers, and outcomes of protected-area dynamics, this thesis advances our understanding of one of the most important conservation interventions, and provides both researchers and policy makers with useful tools and information to optimize conservation strategies

A digital version of the PhD thesis can be obtained from the PhD secretary Mikala Heckscher at mikala@ign.ku.dk