School of Anthropology & Conservation

Excellence in diversity Global in reach



Dr Bob Smith

Reader in Conservation Science

Identifying priority conservation areas; protected areas; conservation and corruption; conservation and marketing


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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.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

M. Struebig, Wilting, A., Gaveau, D., Meijaard, E., Smith, R., Fischer, M., Metcalfe, K., and Kramer-Schadt, S., "Targeted Conservation to Safeguard a Biodiversity Hotspot from Climate and Land-Cover Change", Current Biology, vol. 25. pp. 372-378, 2015 [Online]. Available:
S. Butchart, Clarke, M., Smith, R., Sykes, R., Scharlemann, J., Harfoot, M., Buchanan, G., Angulo, A., Balmford, A., Bertzky, B., Brooks, T., Carpenter, K., Comeros-Raynal, M., Cornell, J., Ficetola, G., Fishpool, L., Fuller, R., Geldmann, J., Harwell, H., Hilton-Taylor, C., Hoffmann, M., Joolia, A., Joppa, L., Kingston, N., May, I., Milam, A., Polidoro, B., Ralph, G., Richman, N., Rondinini, C., Segan, D., Skolnik, B., Spalding, M., Stuart, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Visconti, P., Watson, J., Wood, L., and Burgess, N., "Shortfalls and Solutions for Meeting National and Global Conservation Area Targets", Conservation Letters. Wiley Open Access, p. n/a-n/a, 2015 [Online]. Available:
K. Metcalfe, Vaz, S., Engelhard, G., Villanueva, M., Smith, R., and Mackinson, S., "Evaluating conservation and fisheries management strategies by linking spatial prioritization software and ecosystem and fisheries modelling tools", Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 52. Wiley, pp. 665-674, 2015 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith, Biggs, D., St. John, F., ‘t Sas-Rolfes, M., and Barrington, R., "Elephant conservation and corruption beyond the ivory trade", Conservation Biology, vol. 29. pp. 953-956, 2015 [Online]. Available:
C. Gardner, Raxworthy, C., Metcalfe, K., Raselimanana, A., Smith, R., and Davies, Z., "Comparing Methods for Prioritising Protected Areas for Investment: A Case Study Using Madagascar’s Dry Forest Reptiles", PLOS ONE, vol. 10. p. e0132803, 2015 [Online]. Available:
D. Baker, Hartley, A., Burgess, N., Butchart, S., Carr, J., Smith, R., Belle, E., and Willis, S., "Assessing climate change impacts for vertebrate fauna across the West African protected area network using regionally appropriate climate projections", Diversity and Distributions, vol. 21. pp. 991-1003, 2015 [Online]. Available:
T. Humle, Duffy, R., Roberts, D., Sandbrook, C., St. John, F., and Smith, R., "Biology's drones: undermined by fear", Science, vol. 344. Amer Assoc, pp. 1351-1351, 2014 [Online]. Available:
D. Veríssimo, Pongiluppi, T., Santos, M., Develey, P., Fraser, I., Smith, R., and MacMillan, D., "Using a Systematic Approach to Select Flagship Species for Bird Conservation", Conservation Biology, vol. 28. Wiley, pp. 269-277, 2014 [Online]. Available:
D. Veríssimo, Fraser, I., Girão, W., Campos, A., Smith, R., and MacMillan, D., "Evaluating Conservation Flagships and Flagship Fleets", Conservation Letters, vol. 7. Wiley, pp. 263-270, 2014 [Online]. Available:
O. Venter, Fuller, R., Segan, D., Carwardine, J., Brooks, T., Butchart, S., Di Marco, M., Iwamura, T., Joseph, L., O'Grady, D., Possingham, H., Rondinini, C., Smith, R., Venter, M., and Watson, J., "Targeting Global Protected Area Expansion for Imperiled Biodiversity", PLoS Biology, vol. 12. p. e1001891, 2014 [Online]. Available:
D. Veríssimo, MacMillan, D., Smith, R., Crees, J., and Davies, Z., "Has climate change taken prominence over biodiversity conservation?", Bioscience, vol. 64. American Institute of Biological Science, pp. 625-629, 2014 [Online]. Available:
E. McCreless, Carwardine, J., Visconti, P., Wilcox, C., and Smith, R., "Cheap and Nasty? The Potential Perils of Using Management Costs to Identify Global Conservation Priorities", PLoS ONE, vol. 8. p. e80893, 2013 [Online]. Available:
K. Metcalfe, Delavenne, J., Garcia, C., Foveau, A., Dauvin, J., Coggan, R., Vaz, S., Harrop, S., and Smith, R., "Impacts of data quality on the setting of conservation planning targets using the species-area relationship", Diversity and Distributions, vol. 19. pp. 1-13, 2013 [Online]. Available:
E. Di Minin, Hunter, L., Balme, G., Smith, R., Goodman, P., and Slotow, R., "Creating Larger and Better Connected Protected Areas Enhances the Persistence of Big Game Species in the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Biodiversity Hotspot", PLoS ONE, vol. 8. p. e71788, 2013 [Online]. Available:
K. Metcalfe, Roberts, T., Smith, R., and Harrop, S., "Marine conservation science and governance in North–West Europe: Conservation planning and international law and policy", Marine Policy, vol. 39. Elsevier, pp. 289-295, 2013 [Online]. Available:
H. Brink, Smith, R., and Skinner, K., "Methods for lion monitoring: a comparison from the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania", African Journal of Ecology, vol. 51. Wiley, pp. 366-375, 2013 [Online]. Available:
D. Veríssimo, Barua, M., Jepson, P., MacMillan, D., and Smith, R., "Selecting marine invertebrate flagship species: Widening the net", Biological Conservation, vol. 145. p. 4, 2012 [Online]. Available:
J. Delavenne, Metcalfe, K., Smith, R., Vaz, S., Martin, C., Dupuis, L., Coppin, F., and Carpentier, A., "Systematic conservation planning in the eastern English Channel: comparing the Marxan and Zonation decision-support tools", ICES Journal of Marine Science, vol. 69. pp. 75-83, 2012 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith, Veríssimo, D., Isaac, N., and Jones, K., "Identifying Cinderella species: uncovering mammals with conservation flagship appeal", Conservation Letters, vol. 5. Wiley, pp. 205-212, 2012 [Online]. Available:
A. Knight, Grantham, H., Smith, R., McGregor, G., Possingham, H., and Cowling, R., "Land managers’ willingness-to-sell defines conservation opportunity for protected area expansion", Biological Conservation, vol. 144. pp. 2623-2630, 2011 [Online]. Available:
D. Veríssimo, MacMillan, D., and Smith, R., "Marketing diversity: a response to Joseph and colleagues", Conservation Letters, vol. 4. pp. 326-327, 2011 [Online]. Available:
D. Veríssimo, MacMillan, D., and Smith, R., "Toward a systematic approach for identifying conservation flagships", Conservation Letters, vol. 4. pp. 1-8, 2011 [Online]. Available:
A. Knight, Sarkar, S., Smith, R., Strange, N., and Wilson, K., "Engage the hodgepodge: management factors are essential when prioritizing areas for restoration and conservation action", Diversity and Distributions, vol. 17. pp. 1234-1238, 2011 [Online]. Available:
B. Nhancale and Smith, R., "The influence of planning unit characteristics on the efficiency and spatial pattern of systematic conservation planning assessments", Biodiversity and Conservation, vol. 20. pp. 1821-1835, 2011 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith, Monadjem, A., Magagula, C., and Mahlaba, T., "Conservation planning and viability: problems associated with identifying priority sites in Swaziland using species list data", African Journal of Ecology, vol. 48. pp. 709-717, 2010 [Online]. Available:
J. Carwardine, Wilson, K., Hajkowicz, S., Smith, R., Klein, C., Watts, M., and Possingham, H., "Conservation Planning when Costs Are Uncertain", Conservation Biology, vol. 24. pp. 1529-1537, 2010.
M. Linkie, Rood, E., and Smith, R., "Modelling the effectiveness of enforcement strategies for avoiding tropical deforestation in Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra", Biodiversity and Conservation, vol. 19. pp. 973-984, 2010 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith, Di Minin, E., Linke, S., Segan, D., and Possingham, H., "An approach for ensuring minimum protected area size in systematic conservation planning", Biological Conservation, vol. 143. pp. 2525-2531, 2010 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith, Eastwood, P., Ota, Y., and Rogers, S., "Developing best practice for using Marxan to locate Marine Protected Areas in European waters", ICES Journal of Marine Science, vol. 66. Oxford Journals, OUP, pp. 188-194, 2009 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith, Veríssimo, D., Leader-Williams, N., Cowling, R., and Knight, A., "Let the locals lead", Nature, vol. 462. pp. 280-281, 2009 [Online]. Available:
C. Martin, Carpentier, A., Vaz, S., Coppin, F., Curet, L., Dauvin, J., Delavenne, J., Dewarumez, J., Dupuis, L., Engelhard, G., Ernande, B., Foveau, A., Garcia, C., Gardel, L., Harrop, S., Just, R., Koubbi, P., Lauria, V., Meaden, G., Morin, J., Ota, Y., Rostiaux, E., Smith, R., Spilmont, N., Verin, Y., Villanueva, C., and Warembourg, C., "The Channel habitat atlas for marine resource management (CHARM): an aid for planning and decision-making in an area under strong anthropogenic pressure", Aquatic Living Resources, vol. 22. pp. 499-508, 2009 [Online]. Available:
G. Shannon, Matthews, W., Page, B., Parker, G., and Smith, R., "The affects of artificial water availability on large herbivore ranging patterns in savanna habitats: a new approach based on modelling elephant path distributions", Diversity and Distributions, vol. 15. pp. 776-783, 2009 [Online]. Available:
M. Linkie, Smith, R., Zhu, Y., Martyr, D., Suedmeyer, B., Pramono, J., and Leader-Williams, N., "Evaluating biodiversity conservation around a large Sumatran protected area", Conservation Biology, vol. 22. pp. 683-690, 2008 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith, Easton, J., Nhancale, B., Armstrong, A., Culverwell, J., Dlamini, S., Goodman, P., Loffler, L., Matthews, W., Monadjem, A., Mulqueeny, C., Ngwenya, P., Ntumi, C., Soto, B., and Leader-Williams, N., "Designing a transfrontier conservation landscape for the Maputaland centre of endemism using biodiversity, economic and threat data", Biological Conservation, vol. 141. Elsevier, pp. 2127-2138, 2008 [Online]. Available:
R. Ewers and Smith, R., "Choice of index determines the relationship between corruption and environmental sustainability", Ecology and Society, vol. 12. Resilience Alliance, Acadia University, p. Article Number r2, 2007 [Online]. Available:
A. Knight, Smith, R., Cowling, R., Desmet, P., Faith, D., Ferrier, S., Gelderblom, C., Grantham, H., Lombard, A., Maze, K., Nel, J., Parrish, J., Pence, G., Possingham, H., Reyers, B., Rouget, M., Roux, D., and Wilson, K., "Improving the key biodiversity areas approach for effective conservation planning", Bioscience, vol. 57. American Institute of Biological Science, pp. 256-261, 2007 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith, Muir, R., Walpole, M., Balmford, A., and Leader-Williams, N., "Revisiting the links between governance and biodiversity loss", Conservation Biology, vol. 21. Blackwell Publishing, pp. 899-900, 2007 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith, Goodman, P., and Matthews, W., "Systematic conservation planning: a review of perceived limitations and an illustration of the benefits, using a case study from Maputaland, South Africa", Oryx, vol. 40. CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, pp. 400-410, 2006 [Online]. Available:
M. Walpole and Smith, R., "Focusing on corruption: a reply to Ferraro and Katzner", Oryx, vol. 39. Cambridge University Press , pp. 263-264, 2005 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith and Walpole, M., "Should conservationists pay more attention to corruption?", Oryx, vol. 39. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, pp. 251-256, 2005 [Online]. Available:
M. Linkie, Smith, R., and Leader-Williams, N., "Mapping and predicting deforestation patterns in the lowlands of Sumatra", Biodiversity and Conservation, vol. 13. Springer Netherlands, pp. 1809-1818, 2004 [Online]. Available:
T. Oldfield, Smith, R., Harrop, S., and Leader-Williams, N., "A gap analysis of terrestrial protected areas in England and its implications for conservation policy", Biological Conservation, vol. 120. Elsevier, pp. 303-309, 2004 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith, Muir, R., Walpole, M., Balmford, A., and Leader-Williams, N., "Governance and the loss of biodiversity", Nature, vol. 426. pp. 67-70, 2003 [Online]. Available:
T. Oldfield, Smith, R., Harrop, S., and Leader-Williams, N., "Field sports and conservation in the United Kingdom", Nature, vol. 423. pp. 531-533, 2003 [Online]. Available:
N. Sitati, Walpole, M., Smith, R., and Leader-Williams, N., "Predicting spatial aspects of human-elephant conflict", Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 40. Blackwell Scientific Public, pp. 667-677, 2003 [Online]. Available:
M. Walpole, Smith, R., and Leader-Williams, N., "Species biology and conservation funding", Science, vol. 298. Amer Assoc, pp. 1716-1717, 2002.
N. Leader-Williams, Oldfield, T., Smith, R., and Walpole, M., "Science, conservation and fox-hunting", Nature, vol. 419. pp. 878-878, 2002.
Book section
Y. Reecht, Gasche, L., Lehuta, S., Vaz, S., Smith, R., Mahévas, S., and Marchal, P., "Toward a Dynamical Approach for Systematic Conservation Planning of Eastern English Channel Fisheries", in Marine Productivity: Perturbations and Resilience of Socio-ecosystems, H. -J. Ceccaldi, Hénocque, Y., Koike, Y., Komatsu, T., Stora, G., and Tusseau-Vuillemin, M. -H. élene, Eds. Springer International Publishing, 2015, pp. 175-185 [Online]. Available:
R. Smith, "Conducting systematic conservation planning in the terrestrial environment: a Maputaland case study", in Conservation Biogeography, R. J. Ladle and Whittaker, R. J., Eds. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2011, pp. 145-146.
N. Leader-Williams, Adams, W., and Smith, R., "Deciding what to save: trade-offs in conservation", in Trade-offs in Conservation: Deciding What to Save, N. Leader-Williams, Adams, W. M., and Smith, R. J., Eds. London: Blackwell, 2010, pp. 3-13.
R. Smith, Veríssimo, D., and MacMillan, D., "Marketing and conservation: how to lose friends and influence people", in Trade-offs in Conservation: Deciding What to Save, N. Leader-Williams, Adams, W. M., and Smith, R. J., Eds. London: Blackwell, 2010, pp. 215-232.
R. Smith, Adams, W., and Leader-Williams, N., "Another entangled bank: making conservation trade-offs more explicit", in Trade-offs in Conservation: Deciding What to Save, N. Leader-Williams, Adams, W. M., and Smith, R. J., Eds. London: Blackwell, 2010, pp. 365-376.
M. Linkie and Smith, R., "Measuring the effectiveness of conservation spending", in Conservation Biology For All, N. S. Sodhi and Ehrlich, P. R., Eds. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 291-292.
N. Leader-Williams, Baldus, R., and Smith, R., "The influence of corruption on the conduct of recreational hunting", in Recreational Hunting, Conservation and Rural Livelihoods: science and practice, B. Dickson, Hutton, J., and Adams, B., Eds. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, pp. 296-316.
N. Leader-Williams, Balmford, A., Linkie, M., Mace, G., Smith, R., Stevenson, M., Walter, O., West, C., and Zimmermann, A., "Beyond the ark: conservation biologists' views of the achievements of zoos in conservation", in Zoos in the 21st century: Catalysts for conservation, A. Zimmermann, Hatchwell, M., Dickie, L. A., and West, C., Eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 236-254.
Showing 55 of 57 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]

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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 factors that 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

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.

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

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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: 25/11/2015