Placements 2017 - Thomas Davies

Addressing the influence of human values on selective investment in conservation priorities.

Understanding how conservation outcomes are influenced by the way people value nature is central to developing a socioecological framework for environmental management [Mace (2014) Science, 345, 1558-1560]. In recent analysis of global internet search trends, I revealed a powerful bias in public interest towards vertebrates that is undermining financial investment in the conservation of many less popular endangered species [Davies et al. (2017) PNAS, in review]. Relocating to the Centre for Geography, Environment & Society, I will combine knowledge and skills from the social and ecological sciences to understand the influence of people’s values of nature on conservation outcomes across the world. Using photo elicitation in focus group settings. I will complement my work on internet search trends by examining the emotions/feelings that endangered species invoke in people, and quantifying the influence of these values on the prioritization of species and spatial conservation objectives. The knowledge gained will be communicated to the conservation NGO community in a workshop, where novel approaches to marketing ‘less popular’ species will be developed. The knowledge, skills and experience gained will prove pivotal for the VN community moving forward, in a world where radical policy change is effected through emotional rather than rational choices.

Introduction to Placement - presentation