Sam Sinclair



My education has been largely scientific whilst my career has largely centered on highly practical project management. As a result I am interested in how science can be used to solve problems in practical ways. I've found that many good ideas don’t survive contact with “real world” issues so I try to use my scientific education and my experiences getting hands on in the field to produce useful tools.


In many countries the main vehicle for making trade-off decisions about conservation has been environmental impact assessment (EIA) (Jay et al. 2007). A characteristic of the EIA system is that decisions are made on a case by case basis. The conservation value of an area can be undervalued if a site is considered in isolation, for example wildlife corridors may consist of a common habitat but provide an essential service to national biodiversity (Beier & Noss 2008). This can lead to trade-offs being made which are optimal at the immediately local level but not at a regional, national or international level (Brownlie et al. 2013). To address this issue systematic national or regional level plans which inform trade-off decisions at a local level have been proposed in many countries.

South Africa has led the field by developing spatial biodiversity prioritisations (SBP) at national and regional levels which inform local trade-off decisions (Cowling et al. 1999; Cowling et al. 2003; Knight, Cowling, et al. 2006). In theory, by better understanding the benefit to society of biodiversity and natural land uses, these prioritisations will regulate trade-off decisions made by individuals to ensure wider social benefits are not lost for individual gain (Driver et al. 2003; Cowling et al. 2003). This system has been established in South Africa however it has not been evaluated. My current research is to evaluate this systems effectiveness in order to inform both the process in South Africa and potentially other countries.

Visit my PhD project page here

View my PhD Thesis here

This PhD is supervised by EJ Milner-Gulland and Andrew Knight.


2013-Present: PhD Student, Imperial College London

2012-2013: Management trainee, African Wildlife Foundation

2011-2012: Research and Development Manager, Frontier

2009-2010: MSc Conservation Science, Imperial College London (Distinction)

2009: Research Assistant, Percy Fitzpatrick Institute

2005-2008: BSc Hons Biology, University of Bristol


Emma J. McIntosh, Robert L. Pressey, Samuel Lloyd, Robert Smith, and Richard Grenyer. The Impact of Systematic Conservation PlanningAnnual Review of Environment and Resources Vol. 42:- (Volume publication date November 2017) 


Sam Sinclair