Portrait of Professor Douglas MacMillan

Professor Douglas MacMillan

Professor of Conservation and Applied Resource Economics
Chief Examiner
Programme Convenor for BSc in Human Geography


Professor Douglas MacMillan focuses on the economics of conservation and sustainable land use and collaborates with committed organisations and individuals to produce excellent, high-impact original research. He has published over 100 refereed articles in top ranking journals in Geography, Economics and Conservation Science.

Professor MacMillan's research interests are, in broad terms, related to biodiversity and land-use economics, including the economic valuation of ecosystem services, incentive systems for ecosystem conservation, human–wildlife conflict and conservation/ land-use planning and policy.

Douglas is passionate about learning and teaching and finds it very rewarding to teach students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds and interests. He enjoys teaching economics and explaining its relevance to conserving biodiversity and the planet. Professor MacMillan teaches on a wide range of modules on undergraduate and postgraduate progammes and offers a core module concerning Environmental Sustainability on the School’s new undergraduate BSc programme in Human Geography.

Douglas also travels overseas to deliver short courses in biodiversity economics which are specifically designed for students in those countries with no previous knowledge of economics.

Professor MacMillan believes in interdisciplinarity. The complex challenges of biodiversity conservation demand an interdisciplinary approach and he very much enjoys working with academics from other disciplines.

Professor Douglas MacMillan is a member of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology

Research interests

Professor Douglas MacMillan’s research interests focus on understanding the economics of biodiversity conservation and land-use decision-making.He is especially excited by the notion that biodiversity conservation will be able to pay for itself through the creation of new markets and/or complementary livelihood strategies.

His expertise lies in valuing ecosystem services and biodiversity, human–wildlife conflict studies, spatial conservation planning, illegal wildlife trade and land reform.

As an economist, he is especially focused on quantitative analysis and has expertise in a range of techniques including cost-benefit analysis, contingent valuation, choice experiments, linear programming and multivariate statistics. However, in some situations, such as poaching and illegal logging, reliable economic data is difficult to obtain; hence he also deploys more qualitative approaches to enrich our understanding of these clandestine economic processes.



  • SE306: Animals, People and Plants: An Introduction to Ethnobiology
  • DI304: Environmental Sustainability – an Introduction
  • DI522: Research Project


  • DI878: Social Science Perspectives on Conservation (2 weeks)
  • DI885: Ecotourism and Rural Development Field Course
  • DI888: Economics of Biodiversity Conservation

Professor MacMillan also teaches intensive short courses in Biodiversity Economics that have been specially designed for professionals and PGT students at overseas institutions.


Current students

  • Robin Lines: Landscape connectivity in the Kavango-Zambezi TFCA


  • Nicola Abram: Landscape planning for biodiversity conservation in the Kinabatangan catchment area in Sabah, Borneo.
  • Valeria Boron: Conservation of medium-large mammals across agroecosystems in the neotropics
  • Dan Challender: Conservation of pangolins in Southeast Asia (in association with TRAFFIC). Funded by ESRC - NERC.
  • Abishek Harihar: Landscape planning for tigers in northwest India (in association with the Wildlife Institute of India).
  • Chloe Inskip: Human–tiger conflict in Sunderbans (in association with Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh). Funded by ESRC - NERC.
  • Enrico de Minin: Conservation planning in the Maputaland-Pondland-Albany Biodiversity Hotspot (in association with the Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal Wildlife Department).
  • Kirsty Leitch: The nature of farming in Scotland's crofting countries: an exploration of farming and crofting in high nature value areas.
  • C. Preide: Local perceptions of historical landscapes in the Scottish Highlands (in association with National Trust for Scotland). Funded by ESRC.
  • Niki Rust: Economic Incentives for non-lethal management of human–carnivore conflict (in association with the Cheetah Conservation Fund). Funded by ESRC.
  • Alicia Said: Crossroads at sea: the artisanal fisheries in Malta since EU accession.
  • Samia Saif: Tiger poaching in the Sunderbans (in association with the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh).
  • Rehema Shoo: Using choice experiments to value alternative management options for Lake Natron National Park in Tanzania. Funded by Commonwealth Scholarship.
  • Sarah Tetley: Sourcing sustainable fishing in the UK (joint supervision with the University of Kent Business School)
  • Diogo Verrisimo: Design and implementation of flagship species and programmes.


Professor MacMillan has participated in various capacities and roles as adviser and academic reviewer to national and regional government, NGOs and research councils such as the ESRC. Recent highlights include being invited to review the Swedish Government's Biodiversity Research programme alongside other academics from around the world, and being invited to give a plenary address to the Education Panel of the Guiyang Environmental Forum.

He is on the Editorial Board of Conservation Letters.

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