School of Anthropology & Conservation

Excellence in diversity Global in reach



Dr Bob Smith

Senior Research Fellow



profile image for Dr Bob Smith

School roles and responsibilities

Director of Capacity Building

Academic background

Much of my work focuses on designing conservation landscapes and protected area networks, especially as part of long-term projects in southeast Africa and the English Channel, and this research covers a wide range of topics from software development to guiding policy and implementation. I have worked on projects in 14 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe and this has given me a broad interest in the factors that affect conservation policy and practice. In particular, I have published work on the impacts of corruption, measuring project effectiveness, human-wildlife conflict, the role of positive incentives and how marketing influences the conservation agenda.

Have just booked for the @IUCN "Little Sydney: Protecting nature in Europe" conference. Who else is going?

Posted 5 days ago

Interesting @ConBiology article shows "Governance was the most common factor limiting conservation likelihood"

Posted 6 days ago

My @ConversationUK piece on elephants & corruption is based on our @ConBiology article with @duanbiggs & @TIukED

Posted 11 days ago

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Selected Publications

Selected publications

Smith, RJ, Muir, RDJ, Walpole, MJ, Balmford, A & Leader-Williams, N (2003). Governance and the loss of biodiversity. Nature, 426, 67-70.

Linkie, M, Smith, RJ, Zhu, Y, Martyr, DJ, Suedmeyer, E, Pramono, J and Leader-Williams, N (2008). Evaluating biodiversity conservation around a large Sumatran protected area. Conservation Biology, 22, 683-690.

Smith, RJ, Easton, J, Nhancale, BA, Armstrong, AJ, Culverwell, J, Dlamini, S, Goodman, PS, Loffler, L, Matthews, WS, Monadjem, A, Mulqueeny, CM, Ngwenya, P, Ntumi, CP, Soto, B and Leader-Williams, N (2008). Designing a transfrontier conservation landscape for the Maputaland centre of endemism using biodiversity, economic and threat data. Biological Conservation, 141, 2127-2138.

Smith, RJ, Veríssimo, D, Leader-Williams, N, Cowling, RM, Knight, AT (2009). Let the locals lead. Nature, 462, 280-281.

Smith, RJ, Veríssimo, D, Isaac, NJB and Jones, KE (2012). Identifying Cinderella species: uncovering mammals with conservation flagship appeal. Conservation Letters, 5, 205-212.


Full list of publications
Google Scholar page



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Identifying priority areas for conservation

The majority of my research focuses on designing protected area networks and conservation landscapes using the systematic conservation planning approach. My current work involves running the conservation planning component of the PARCC West Africa project (Protected Areas Resilient to Climate Change) and working on a project funded by Natural England to investigate the trade-offs between different approaches for creating large conservation areas In addition, I run a long-term project working with local partners to design a transnational conservation planning system for the Maputaland Centre of Endemism , a region that falls within Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland.

I am also interested in the broader aspects of identifying priority areas and my research has informed policy and practice at the local and global scale. I have published work on the importance of local involvement in conservation planning and I am collaborating with a range of partners on a project to identify trends and gaps in the global protected area network. I am also involved in a project led by the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and the SpeciesSurvival Commission (SSC) to update the Key Biodiversity Area approach for identifying priority areas.

Systematic conservation planning software

I have developed two software packages for identifying priority conservation areas and designing conservation landscapes and seascapes:

CLUZ (Conservation Land-Use Zoning software) is a user-friendly interface for the Marxan conservation planning software that also lets people develop and modify plans on-screen. This software was originally produced for the ArcView GIS software package but we are currently developing a new version for QGIS.

MinPatch is a stand-alone software package that lets users design viable protected area networks, where each protected area is larger than a specified minimum size threshold. It modifies outputs from the Marxan conservation planning software.

Large mammal conservation

Nyala in Maputaland

My work in Africa has also focused on large mammal conservation and I am particularly interested in human-wildlife conflict and understanding the spatial and anthropogenic factors that determine conservation success. My current research involves running an on-going project on understanding the factorsthat determine the rhino stocking decisions of private reserve managers in South Africa and supervising projects on elephant crop raiding in Kenya.

Marketing and conservation

I am interested in how marketing is used in conservation and the role of flagship species for raising funds and awareness. As part of this work I led a project that developed the concept of “Cinderella Species”, which are aesthetically appealing but currently overlooked species that could be used in future flagship species campaigns.

Other interests

I have also published work on the role of positive incentives in conservation, the impact of corruption on conservation success and predicting deforestation patterns. I continue to have an interest in these topics, especially when they have a spatial element that can be analysed using geographic information systems.























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Current PhD students

Nico Galvez, DICE. Conservation of elusive forest carnivores: effects of fragmentation on the small felid güiña or kodkod (Leopardus guigna) in the temperate forest of Southern Chile

Diogo Veríssimo, DICE. Maximizing awareness and fundraising for conservation through the flagship concept.

Lydia Tiller, DICE. How land-use change between Transmara and Narok districts is driving human-elephant conflict and elephant movement.

Charlotte Walters, DICE and Institute of Zoology. Present and future conservation of European bats.


Previous PhD Students

Dr Henry Brink (2010). Hunting for sustainability: lion conservation in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania.

Dr Mark Darmaraj (2012). Conservation and ecology of tigers in a logged-primary forest mosaic in Peninsular Malaysia.

Dr Juliette Delavenne (2012). Conservation of marine habitats under multiple human uses. Methods, objectives and constraints to optimize a Marine Protected Areas network in the Eastern English Channel

Dr Winnie Kiiru (2012). Understanding the spatial, temporal and socio-economic factors affecting human-elephant conflict around Amboseli National Park in Kenya

Dr Barney Long (2005). Identification of priority areas for integrated conservation management in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam.

Dr Kristian Metcalfe (2013). Investigating the biological and socio-economic impacts of potential marine protected area networks in the Eastern English Channel (co-supervisor).

Dr Bruno Nhancale (2011). Strengthening the Maputaland systematic conservation planning system.

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Honorary Senior Fellow, United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre

International Editorial Board of Oryx, the International Journal of Conservation

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Last Updated: 08/01/2015