Prof. Julia Jones new Prince Bernhard Chair holder
New chair holder aims to make nature conservation more effective and equitable
Prof. Julia Jones from Bangor University in Wales has been appointed as the new holder of the Prince Bernhard Chair for International Nature Conservation. Jones is renowned for her work combining insights from a range of disciplines to measure how effective conservation ultimately is, as well as its impacts on people. She answers questions such as: What kind of conservation works and what doesn’t? How are local communities affected by conservation interventions?
“This appointment is a huge honour”, said Jones. “Scientists who have held this chair before are absolute giants of conservation science and all have made huge contributions in their fields. I’m delighted to be following in their footsteps. During my tenure as chair, I particularly hope to bring more recognition for the social aspects of conservation into conservation teaching at Utrecht, and to work with nature conservation practitioners to improve how they measure the effectiveness of their work. My ultimate aim is to make conservation more effective and equitable.”
New networks and collaborations
The Prince Bernhard Chair gives Jones the opportunity to further develop her research on conservation success, by joining hands with other researchers and organisation. “In all my research, I like making new connections and working with people from different backgrounds”, said Jones.
This position gives me the opportunity to open up a whole new network of expertise at Utrecht University. It also works as a springboard for new collaborations in the rest of the Netherlands.
“This position gives me the opportunity to open up a whole new network of expertise at Utrecht University. But it also works as a springboard for new collaborations in the rest of the Netherlands. The link with WWF in the Netherlands, who are a key partner in this chair, also offers wonderful opportunities for this.”
Evaluate the ultimate outcome of conservation
According to Jones, there is much to be gained in terms of measuring the effectiveness of nature conservation. Currently, the ultimate outcome of conservation is often not evaluated properly, said Jones. Often it remains unclear if, for instance, protecting certain nature areas has really improved biodiversity or reduced deforestation.
In conservation, It is surprisingly difficult to know if a certain policy worked, and if it delivered what it was expected to deliver
“In conservation, you want to know if a certain policy worked, and if it delivered what it was expected to deliver”, said Jones. “However, this is surprisingly difficult, since most of the outcomes are longer-term, much longer than the timescale of conservation projects. Reports are made when projects end, but at that moment they don’t offer the bigger picture of what conservation has actually done for nature protection, as well as any impacts on local human wellbeing.”
Special relationship with Madagascar
Jones has a special connection with Madagascar, where she has worked for 20 years. Jones analyses how communities located on forest edge are affected by conservation. The projects are a textbook example of her approach, analysing not just what conservation has done for biodiversity but also for human wellbeing. She performs this research in collaboration with scientists from the Université d'Antananarivo in Madagascar and works with a range of stakeholders to ensure this work has real-world impact. “Ultimately the aim is to support the national government in their efforts to reform and refine the way in which they implement conservation.”
Prince Bernhard Chair
The Prince Bernhard Chair for International Nature Conservation is embedded in the Ecology & Biodiversity research group at Utrecht University. The chair was established in 1987 on the occasion of the 75th birthday of His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard (1911-2004) in recognition of his decisive role in international nature conservation.
Since its establishment, the Prince Bernhard Chair has contributed greatly to linking science and practice.
Prince Bernhard was the first president of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and co-founded the Peace Parks Foundation. In the Netherlands, he was chairman of the Dutch branch of the WWF for more than thirty years. Until his death in 2004, Prince Bernhard was closely involved in the activities of his chair at Utrecht University.
Since its establishment, the Prince Bernhard Chair has contributed greatly to linking science and practice. This is done by educating Dutch and international students (BSc, MSc and PhD) in the international aspects of nature conservation, by stimulating science-based efforts for international nature conservation, and by creating awareness for urgent nature conservation issues.
Former chair holders
The Prince Bernhard Chairholders are internationally renowned researchers who work at the interface of science and nature conservation. Former chairholders are Norman Meyers (1987-1992), Jeffrey Sayer (1994-2003), Jack Putz (2004-2009), Bill Laurance (2010-2014) and Jaboury Ghazoul (2015-2020). Chair holders serve for a period of five years, during which they visit Utrecht University regularly.