Thomas Pienkowski

Over the last ten years I’ve worked in conservation science and practice. Before starting my PhD, I investigated links between land cover and child health outcomes at the BioEcon Lab, National University of Singapore. Prior to this I worked at the Earthworm Foundation (formerly The Forest Trust) in the UK and as Head Development Officer at Ya'axché Conservation Trust in Belize.

I completed my MSc in Environmental Policy at the Central European University in Hungary, and my BSc in Environmental Conservation at Bangor University, where I spent one year implementing bio-economic research in rural Jamaica.

I have a strong professional and personal interest in understanding how mental illness – historically neglected despite being the largest cause of disability globally – is influenced by people’s social and ecological context. This interest emerged from several years of working in Central America and the Caribbean, seeing how the combined effects of climate change and ecological disruption already affect residents’ well-being. The role of socio-ecological systems in mental illness will become increasingly prominent among those at the sharp end of climate and ecosystem change.


tomMy PhD focuses on links between conservation and human health, particularly mental health. My project has two primary components. The first explores socio-ecological determinants of mental health in a rural global south context. The second is the Life in Conservation project, looking at the occupational welfare of conservationists globally.

I have also recently completed a policy note for the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, synthesising and critically reviewing links between biodiversity and human health.

Read more about my research here



2018 | Consultant | Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health| Synthesising evidence linking biodiversity and health through water quality for a policy brief.

2016–17 | Research Assistant at the BioEcon Lab - National University of Singapore | Modelling relationships between conservation, forests and human health.

2015–16 | 'No Exploitation' Project Officer at Earthworm Foundation | Coordinating the implementation of Responsible Stone Programme work plans improving working conditions in China and India.

2012-15 | MSc. Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management at the Central European University, Lund University & University of Manchester.

2012–13 | Head Development Officer at Ya’axché Conservation Trust | Management of integrated landscape management project development and funding.

2008-12 | BSc. Environmental Conservation at Bangor University of Wales 

2010–11 | Visiting Researcher at University of the West Indies | Investigating the economic importance of an invasive species within a Jamaican artisan fishery. 

2010–11 | Research Assistant at Bangor University of Wales | Assisted developing of a bio-economic model exploring illegal harvest of xaté palm in Central America.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership scholarship, supervised by Professor Milner-Gulland (University of Oxford) and Dr. Aidan Keane (University of Edinburgh).


2018 - Small Grants Fund | The Parkes Foundation.

2018 - Training and Travel Grant 2018 | British Ecological Society.

2017 - NERC DTP award | 4 year DPhil scholarship at the University of Oxford.

2014 - CEU MA Research Grant & Lydia Press Memorial Fund | Thesis Research grant.

2013 - Erasmus Mundus Scholarship | scholarship for the Masters of Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management Program.

2013 - MESPOM Consortium Tuition Waiver | A tuition waiver to pursue a Masters of Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management Program.

2012 - SENRGy Prize for Highest Honors Project Mark | Award for the best BSc. final year Honors project.2014 - CEU MA Research Grant & Lydia Press Memorial Fund for masters thesis research.

2013 - Erasmus Mundus Scholarship – Category B and MESPOM Consortium Tuition Waiver scholarship to conduct a Masters in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management.

2012 - SENRGy Prize for Highest Honours Project Mark


Booth H, Arias M, Brittain S, Challender DWS, Khanyari M, Kuiper T, Li Y, Olmedo A, Oyanedel R, Pienkowski T and Milner-Gulland EJ (2021) “Saving Lives, Protecting Livelihoods, and Safeguarding Nature”: Risk-Based Wildlife Trade Policy for Sustainable Development Outcomes Post-COVID-19. Front. Ecol. Evol. 9:639216. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2021.639216

Pienkowski T., Cook C., Verma, M., Carrasco L.R. Conservation costeffectiveness: a review of the evidence base. Conservation Science and Practice. 2021: e357. 

Veríssimo D., Pienkowski T., Arias M., Cugnière L., Doughty H., Hazenbosch M., De Lange E., Moskeland A., Grace M. 2020. Ethical publishing in biodiversity conservation science. Conservation & Society. 2020, 18 (3): 220-225.

Teoh S.H.S., Symes W.S., Sun H., Pienkowski T., Carrasco L.R. 2019. A global meta-analysis of the economic values of provisioning and cultural ecosystem services. Science of the Total Environment, 649:1293-1298.

Pienkowski T., Dickens B.L., Sun H., & Carrasco L.R. 2018. Linking forests, deforestation, and nutritional outcomes: An observational study in nine African countries. The Lancet Planetary Health, 2(meeting abstract S4).

Pienkowski T., Dickens B.L., Sun H., Carrasco L.R. 2017. Empirical evidence of the public health effects of tropical forest conservation. Lancet Planetary Health, 1(5): e180-e187.

Papworth S., Rao M., Oo MM, Latt K.T., Tizard R., Pienkowski T., Carrasco L.R. 2017. The impact of gold mining and agricultural concessions on the tree cover and local communities in northern Myanmar. Scientific Reports, 7: 46594. 

Prospere K., McLaren K., Pienkowski T., & Wilson B.S. 2016. Assessing the status of an artisanal shrimp fishery in a Ramsar wetland in Jamaica: The effects of extreme La Niña episodes, elevated temperature and seasonality on landings. Limnologica, 59: 140–154. 

Pienkowski T., Williams S., McLaren K., Wilson B., & Hockley N. 2015. Alien invasions and livelihoods: Economic benefits of invasive Australian Red Claw crayfish in Jamaica. Journal of Ecological Economics, 112: 68-77.


British Ecological Society