Jamie A. Carr

Jamie A. Carr

Profile

I am a conservation biologist with broad taxonomic, geographic, scientific and technical expertise. I combine an estimable academic background with more than a decade of practical work and voluntary experience. I have managed or engaged in projects in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America, and have organised and attended high-level international meetings and workshops, including in the global policy arena. 

My first-class bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Conservation was obtained from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and included a research project to explore the ecological niche separation of two co-occurring species of tortoise in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria. During and after this degree I worked in Bulgaria and the UK, undertaking surveys of reptiles and plants, and securing a firm understanding of a range of field survey methods and techniques. 

In 2009, following voluntary roles with BirdLife International and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), I was offered a paid position with IUCN’s Global Species Programme. This role involved organisation of an international species assessment workshop in Uganda, and subsequent analysis of the resulting maps and data using novel methods to assess the climate change vulnerability of more than 2,000 species from a highly threatened African biodiversity hotspot. Inspired by this work, and by continued engagement with IUCN, the research project of my master’s degree in Applied Ecology and Conservation from the University of East Anglia sought to further refine IUCN’s methods of assessing climate change vulnerability, and to apply these to the entire reptile fauna of Europe.

After gaining a distinction-level MSc I was offered the position of Programme Officer with IUCN, and later went on to lead their work on species and climate change. During six years in this role I assumed a range of responsibilities, including fundraising, project development and implementation, and representing IUCN in a variety of settings and contexts. Project implementation typically involved engagement with multiple international partners and stakeholders; organisation and running of species assessment workshops in a variety of countries; developing novel methods of species assessment; analysis of large, complex datasets; and the production of high quality publications. Concurrent to this role, I held a position on the steering committee of the IUCN SSC Climate Change Specialist Group, which continues to the present day. 

Perhaps my most challenging (and also rewarding) endeavour with IUCN was leading the production of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund’s ecosystem profile for the Guinean Forests biodiversity hotspot in West Africa. This process involved consultation with stakeholders from 11 countries and the coordination of more than 25 expert authors. The final output is currently being used to prioritise and allocate US$ 9 million of funding to conservation projects in the region. The importance of this process in developing my career pathway cannot be understated, as it highlighted an interest and ability to combine socioeconomic, political, biological and other factors, with a view to achieving positive outcomes for nature, and ultimately led me to current research topic.

My current research is intended to complement my previous roles and experiences (which have largely focused on species conservation) with investigations that are more ‘human-focused’ in nature. By doing so, I hope to further diversify my expertise, and to demonstrate an ability to consider some of the most important challenges facing humanity in a multi-disciplinary manner. 
 

Research interests

Inspired in large part by my past work looking climate change impacts on species, my research interests lie very much in investigating the conservation implications of an interacting range of complex factors. In particular, I am interested in anthropogenic drivers of ecosystem change, including their interactions and specific mechanisms that can affect these drivers, and how these can be manuipulated by intervening agencies to achieve desirable outcomes. 
 
The topic of my PhD is concerned with how interventions seeking to achieve progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can have implications, whether positive or negative, for the health and persistence of the world’s forests. The global importance of forests is now widely recognised (including within the SDGs), yet their conservation receives proportionally far less funding than most other global goals and targets. As such, I feel that research and work to ensure that more heavily-funded development goals do not impinge upon those that receive less funding, such as matters of the environment, is an urgent and important undertaking.  

This project responds to calls to identify and map the interactions between the SDGs, which it is recognised may be either mutually beneficial or damaging. By doing so, I hope to produce outputs that can be of direct use to planners, policymakers and others working in this field, and to help avoid the investment of resources into activities that are more damaging than beneficial, and instead promote activities that provide mutual benefits across multiple goals.  

The work associated with my research has three main lines of inquiry, operating at three spatial scales (global, national and local), and each using a different methodological approach. These are: 

  • A systematic review of literature, aiming to synthesise the current state of knowledge around the implications of development interventions for forests, and to develop the first ever map of interactions between a specific development target and those of other development goals.
  • A spatial analysis of data pertaining to tree cover change and development funding in Tanzania, aiming to identify how changes in funding to specific SDGs received by Tanzanian districts are associated with changes in the rates of tree cover loss. 
  • A mixed methods approach, using both quantitative and qualitative research methods, to explore how different types of development intervention received by individual villages in the district of Kilwa, Tanzania, have resulted in changes to the rate or incidence of forest loss or degradation.  

As evidenced in my choice of research topic, my work is very much driven by a desire to fill important gaps at the science-policy interface (providing actionable and practical advice to policymakers), to help eliminate the silos within which many development goals still operate, and, ultimately, to contribute to a global development pathway that is sustainable in the true sense of the word. 
 

Qualifications

  • MSc Applied Ecology and Conservation (distinction-level award)
  • BSc Ecology and Conservation (first-class honours degree)

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science
  • Sustainability Research Institute