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Academic Profile

Paul Jepson is a Honorary Research Associate of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He was previously course director of the MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management at the School of Geography and the Environment and Senior Research Fellow with the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He is Nature Recovery lead with Ecosulis Ltd working at the intersection of natural asset restoration, technology and enterprise.

He previously directed the MSc in Nature Society and Environmental Policy (2007-2013) and prior to these appointments, held Senior Research Fellowships with the Environmental Change Institute and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School. Paul transferred into academia from a successful career in conservation management and policy. He has consulted for a wide range of inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations and was Indonesia Programme Coordinator for BirdLife International (1991-1997). He started his career as a local government countryside officer developing new urban conservation initiatives in Manchester and Shrewsbury (UK). His research interests focus on the geographies of conservation governance and focus on three themes: i) theory development to support better conservation practice, ii) the governance of conservation over space and time, and iii) conservation governance futures. This research is informed by long term interests in protected areas, wildlife trade, conservation policy history, science-policy interfaces and NGO, accountability and legitimacy.

Current Research

Conservation Governance Lab

While at the School of Geography and the Environment, Paul led an interdisciplinary Conservation Governance Lab working to generate novel and creative insight to help conservation assure its relevance and impact in the 21st century. The lab's identity is founded on the belief that important applied insights lie at the interfaces of the natural and social sciences and of theory and practice. It aims to generate richer conceptualisations of the actor, policy and management landscape of conservation, how this varies across time and space, and how elements of this might respond to future social, technological and environmental change. A developing research theme of his lab concerns the implications of new technologies and the practices they produce for the future of conservation.

Research Themes

More specifically, Paul's current research and writing focuses on three themes i) rewilding and creating the institutional spaces for the development of policy to support functionalist approaches to conservation gain policy support, ii) the implications of new technological forces for conservation science, policy and action, and iii) how to recapitalise conservation and expand the range of financing sources. He has a leading role on two major research initiatives. The first is the development and application of culturomic ('big-data') techniques to generate indexes of the 'culturalness' of species and sites. He has published a series of papers with Richard Ladle and Ricardo Correia that introduce and demonstrate the potential of culturomic techniques. Now their technique is validated, this research is moving to the design and development of new generation conservation decision support techniques. The second project, is investigating ways in which the value - existing and potential- of investments in protected areas can be protected and enhanced. Together with colleagues in the Smith School and Brazil he published a new framework for Protected Area Asset Stewardship in 2017. This project is now researching and developing applied applications of this framework.

In addition, Paul is actively engaged in rewilding policy. In 2016 he published an agenda for European Rewilding and conducted research with Frans Schepers (Rewilding Europe) on creating a policy space for rewilding within EC nature institutions. He was appointed to the RE board in April 2017.

Paul is also active in science communication, particularly in the area of biodiversity science-policy interfaces and new media. He established the Freshwater blog in 2009 and regularly writes for on-line media such as The Conversation and Geographical magazine.

Selected Research Projects

  • Protected Area Resilience: Promoting value creation and value protection in a globally significant asset class, Smith School for Enterprise and Environment, WWF-UK (2014) and Creating and protecting the value of Brazilian PAs (Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technological Development CNPq #163055/2014-9)
    Leading development of a framework metrics to assess protected area assets, the forms of value they create and the risks to different asset types.
  • Identifying genomic resources against pests and pathogens in tree genera: a case study in Fraxinus, BBSRC Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (2014-2016)
    Leader of work-package 4 on Public acceptability of potential genetic solutions to tree health problems.
  • Biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems: status, trends, pressures and conservation priorities (BioFresh). European Union F7 (2009-2014)
    Leader of two components of this multi-partner eco-informatics project which aims to raise the policy profile of FW Biodiversity and develop a stronger evidence-base for policy responses. These are the Dissemination and Communication work package and the development of a climate vulnerability index.
  • A market-led response to domestic bird trade in Indonesia
    In collaboration with Dr Richard Ladle; Fahrul Amama, Burung Indonesia; Made Prana, Indonesian Bird Association; Sujatnika, Aksenta, and Farquhar Stirling, Nielsen Indonesia; Financial support from Darwin Initiative; (2005-2008).
  • Improving the performance of social organizations: the strategic management of legitimating assets (2006-2007)
    In collaboration with Dr Alex Nicholls and Alec Jacobs, Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Saïd Business School; Financial support from University RDC.


MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management

  • Conservation Governance
  • Biodiversity Technologies
  • Professional Research Practice

All MScs

Recent Graduate Research Students (since 2006)

Anna Hushlak
Completed DPhil in 2018

Campaigning in the age of digital media: exploring the influences of digital affordances on campaigning in environmental non-governmental organisations

Sarah Terry
Completed DPhil in 2016

Spaces for nature: neoliberal conservation in post-Reformasi South Sumatra

Nina Kruglikova
Completed DPhil in 2014

Environmental NGOs as a mediator of scientific knowledge: an enthnographic study

Mari Mulyani
Completed DPhil in 2014

The interplay between the REDD+ mechanism and forest-related institutions in Indonesia

Maan Barua
Completed DPhil in 2013

The political ecology of human-elephant relationships in India

Kathleen Buckingham
Completed DPhil in 2012

The marginalisation of an orphan species: examining bamboos fit within international forestry institutions

Natalie Page
Completed MPhil in 2015
Valuing a human asset through a novel framework for protected area resilience: A case study of the Mersey Valley Countryside Warden Service
Priscilla Corbett
Completed MPhil in 2015
Place, agency and policy: Does the one size of India's Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act really fit all?
Chung-Han Yang
Completed MPhil in 2015
Environmental NGO engagements with the Chinese mining and oil industry
James Erbaugh
Completed MPhil in 2013
The formalization of smallholder timber production in northern Central Java: Governmentalization beyond the political forest
Jonas Schoenefeld
Completed MPhil in 2013
The role of environmental groups in EU climate change policy-making
Maria Szauer
Completed MPhil in 2013
The role of the mass media in the disaster management political agenda, in Colombia: Case studies of the 2010-2011 La Niña floorings
Gillian Petrokofsky
Completed DPhil in 2011
Strengthening the evidence base for English forestry policy formulation (Registered in Plant Sciences, Oxford)
Edward Perry
Completed MPhil in 2010
Towards a blended governance approach for forest biodiversity conservation in Indonesia.

Selected Publications

  • View Dr Paul Jepson's ORCID profile
  • View Dr Paul Jepson's Scopus profile
  • View Dr Paul Jepson's ResearchGate profile
  • View Dr Paul Jepson's Academia.edu profile
  • View Dr Paul Jepson's Google Scholar profile
  • View Dr Paul Jepson's ResearcherID profile

If you lack access to journals and would like to read any of the articles below please follow Paul on ResearchGate or contact him directly for a reprint.

For a full list of Paul's publications please see ResearchGate.

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

Other Publications


Selected Reports and Popular Articles

Research and Concept Notes and Digital Native Media