The Programme Management team

The Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme is managed by a small team within the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, based in the David Attenborough Building in Cambridge, UK.

Dr David Thomas

Programme Director

David Thomas has over 30 years’ experience as a conservationist and project manager both in the field and as manager of a global portfolio of projects. After graduating he worked at University College London and then Edinburgh University, exploring landscape-scale impacts of development in Tunisia (impacts of dams and drainage) and Belize (impacts of coastal tourism development). He worked for IUCN providing technical advice on links between environment and local livelihoods at a floodplain wetland in northern Nigeria, before joining BirdLife International in 1997. As Head of Environment and Sustainable Development, he coordinated the different strands of BirdLife’s environment and sustainable development work and led on cross-cutting issues of conservation and governance, equity, rights, poverty reduction, gender and indigenous peoples. From 2010 he coordinated work focused on empowerment of local, grassroots organisations, and the linkages between biodiversity, livelihoods and well-being.

Sarah Sanders

Programme Manager

Sarah is passionate about nature, particularly supporting people to make the world a better place for both. She has a broad conservation background and wants to work with everyone to make a difference. After obtaining an MSc in Protected Landscape Management her work for the past 20+ years has ranged from enabling communities to manage natural resources at the local level, to developing the capacity of countries to address global environmental issues. Previously she has worked with the UNDP-GEF Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS supporting countries to access funds to undertake national capacity self-assessments to assess their capacity to meet the requirements of the global environment conventions. She has also managed the RSPB’s UK Overseas Territories programme and has led the team providing support to BirdLife partners in Africa and Asia. Most recently she has managed the RSPB’s curlew recovery programme in the UK where the aim is to enable partners within priority landscapes to improve the conservation prospects for this globally threatened species.

Berry Mulligan

Seascapes Programme Manager

Berry is an ecologist by training and spent the early part of his career working on projects in Latin America and Southeast Asia. With a passion for coastal habitats and desire to get his feet wet he transitioned from tropical forests to the ocean and now specialises in marine conservation. He designed and managed the project which led to the establishment of Cambodia’s first large-scale Marine Protected Area (with Fauna & Flora) and worked on policy to reduce bycatch of seabirds in industrial tuna fleets (with BirdLife International/RSPB).  Most recently he was a Senior Programme Manager with Fauna & Flora, overseeing large grants and supporting partners to restore habitats and establish networks of MPAs. He completed an MPhil in Conservation Leadership at the University of Cambridge, including an evaluation of the potential for CCI to catalyse marine conservation action.

Dr Nancy Ockendon

Science Manager

Nancy is the Science Manager for the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme. Her role is to support the projects funded by the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme to make effective use of science, whether that might be using evidence to choose between restoration methods, or creating well-designed monitoring programmes that collect useful data and test new interventions. Before joining CCI Nancy worked in the University of Cambridge’s Zoology Department for several years as part of the Conservation Evidence team as Managing Editor of their Conservation Evidence journal. She was also instrumental in the creation of ‘What Works in Conservation’, a resource that provides assessments of the effectiveness of a wide range of possible conservation interventions. Previously, Nancy has worked for the British Trust for Ornithology, with particular interests in the impacts of climate change and long-distance migrant bird species, and the RSPB, where she ran a project to investigate the causes of declines in urban house sparrow populations.

Dr Taylor Shaw

Conservation Scientist

Taylor is supporting Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme-funded projects to monitor restoration interventions across multiple ecological and socio-economic dimensions, and more broadly to help build a robust evidence base for current and future restoration projects. Previously, as a soundscape ecologist and doctoral candidate within the project ‘Conservation of Forest Biodiversity in Multiple-Use Landscapes of Central Europe’, she investigated how acoustic monitoring can be effectively employed as a high-resolution biodiversity monitoring tool. Taylor also worked on the Dr. FOREST project, which sought to quantify the ecosystem services and disservices provided by forests and their subsequent effects on human health. Taylor’s previous research, in partnership with Flora and Fauna International (FFI), examined factors limiting the use of endangered tree species in the restoration of the highly threatened Araucaria forest. Prior to that, she worked in Cambodia to better understand the complex issues relating to deforestation and alternative livelihoods programming, and at the National Geographic Society.

Iona Haines

Communications & Network Coordinator

Iona is the Communications & Network Coordinator for the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme. Prior to joining the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme, Iona worked as coordinator of the Ape Alliance, a coalition of over 100 organisations with the aim of bringing people together to further ape conservation and welfare. She completed a MSci in Biology at the University of Bristol, studying how British Lepidopterans’ life-histories interact with the changing climate. Iona is passionate about conservation and the natural world, and in her spare time enjoys photography and spending time in nature.

Vikki Austin

Programme Administrator

Vikki is the Programme Administrator for the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme. After fifteen years working in administrative office roles in both the public and private sector, she pursued a career change and spent almost ten years working as a Countryside Ranger in Northamptonshire. Returning to the Great Indoors she is looking forward to continuing her conservation journey with the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme, combining her administrative experience with her knowledge of practical conservation work. She is currently studying part time with The Open University working towards a BSc in Environmental Science.

Liz Ballard

Artist Residencies Coordinator

Liz is Residencies Coordinator for the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme, a collaboration with the Arts, Science and Conservation Programme at Cambridge Conservation Initiative. Prior to joining Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme, Liz worked at Kettle’s Yard, the University of Cambridge’s modern and contemporary art gallery as Assistant Curator, Community Programme. Liz is interested in supporting artists develop ambitious site-specific artworks and innovative opportunities for meaningful community engagement with high quality contemporary art. In particular, collaborative projects with arts and science organisations which explore the role that artists can play in responding to current climate challenges. Since studying Fine Art at University of the West of England, Bristol, she has produced a range of exhibitions, residencies, programmes and events. Alongside Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme, she works part time as Learning Programme Manager at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich.

The Oversight and Selection Panel

The Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme’s Oversight and Selection Panel is comprised of distinguished individuals with a wide range of experience and expertise. The Panel is responsible for recommending which projects should receive Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme grants by independently applying the Programme’s criteria and providing guidance and oversight in relation to the Programme’s overall implementation and strategy. Observer members are valued members of the Oversight and Selection Panel, but they do not have a vote on decisions made by the Panel, and are not involved in the selection of projects for funding.

Angelo Salsi

Angelo Salsi studied agricultural sciences at the University of Bologna, and started his career as an agro-meteorologist. In 1994 he joined the European Commission, in the Nature Conservation department of the Directorate General for Environment. In 2000 he was appointed deputy head of “The LIFE Unit” – which had responsibility for managing the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU. Angelo continued his career as manager of the LIFE program until he reached the position of Head of the Department “ Natural resource, climate, sustainable blue economy and clean energy” in the Executive Agency for Climate, Environment and Infrastructures (CINEA). After 29 years on the front line helping EU member states and all concerned parties to protect Europe’s environment and natural heritage as well as supporting the EU’s efforts in the battle against climate change, he retired in 2022.

Bart Fokkens

Bart Fokkens worked for 40 years with the Ministry for Water Management in the Netherlands in various positions in the field of Land, Water and Wetland Management, often participating in international cooperation programs. These included twinning projects between the deltas of the Rhine, Danube, Volga and Pechora and capacity development and training under the framework of the Ramsar Convention. Between 2002 and 2010 he was president of the Dutch National Union of Provincial Nature Conservation Organisations. He is the co-founder (1999) and for ten years was the chair of the European Centre for River Restoration (ECRR) a Pan – European network of national river restoration centres and other members bound by their common mission to promote and enhance ecological river restoration. He remains an associated expert with the ECRR and also with Wetlands International.

Sir Charles Raymond Burrell

Sir Charles Burrell studied for a Higher National Diploma in Agriculture and Advanced Farm Management at Cirencester Royal Agricultural College. He inherited Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex from his grandparents in 1983. Despite intensifying the Estate’s arable and dairy business for seventeen years, farming on the heavy Sussex clay remained unprofitable. All 3,200 acres of the Knepp Estate are now devoted to a process-led rewilding project involving free-roaming herds of cattle, horses, pigs and deer as drivers of habitat creation. In 2015, Knepp Wildland received a People Environment Achievement (PEA) award for Nature and, in 2017, the Anders Wall award for special contribution to the rural environment within the European Union.

Erika Vaida Bela

Erika Vaida Bela started to think and work as a conservationist in the very early stages of her professional life, working as a forester for 12 years. She continued with conservation work as Director of the Retezat National Park, Romania’s oldest national park. In this capacity she established the first park management team, coordinated the development of the first national park management plan in Romania and was part of the working group that developed Romania’s First Protected Area Law. As Team Leader of the Carpathians, Forests and Protected Areas team at WWF, Erika initiated and coordinated projects in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine. She was also President of the Europarc Federation. In 2006 Erika was appointed State Secretary at the Forest Department in the Ministry of Environment in Romania where she established the legal framework for the protection of pristine forests and for compensation payments for private owners with forests that must be protected for biodiversity values and for environmental services. In 2008 Erika established the ProPark Foundation for Protected Areas in Romania, an organization that now has 13 years of experience in developing and implementing capacity building programmes for protected area practitioners and for stakeholders who are directly involved in land and natural resource management in protected areas.

Professor Esther Turnhout

Esther Turnhout is an interdisciplinary social scientist with expertise in science and technology studies, environmental studies, and political science. She is the Chair of Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. Her research and teaching focuses on the interactions between science, technology, lay, indigenous and local knowledge systems, and policy and governance for biodiversity and sustainability transformations. She has published numerous articles on the biodiversity science-policy interface and other topics in high impact journals and she is also the first author of the book Environmental Expertise: Connecting Science, Policy and Society with Cambridge University Press. She is editor in chief of the interdisciplinary journal Environmental Science & Policy. She plays several active roles in the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and was an author of the IPBES Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

Dr Franc Hughes

Francine Hughes (Franc) is a geographer specialising in the restoration of rivers and wetlands. She has spent most of her working life as an academic but has always enjoyed the practical challenges of making projects happen on the ground. Her early research was on the downstream impacts of dams on deltaic and floodplain environments in Canada and Kenya. From 1993 to 2003 she co-ordinated a series of EU-funded projects on the dynamics and restoration of European floodplain forests while a Senior Research Associate at the University of Cambridge. For several decades she has been advisory in the development of a landscape-scale wetland restoration project by the National Trust, adjacent to Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire. Since 2007 she has been involved in or lead research to develop practical approaches to measuring and monitoring long-term change in ecosystems and ecosystem services at landscape-scale restoration projects, while based at Anglia Ruskin University. She was recently a member of the international expert advisory group for the Swiss Federal Office for Environment (FOEN) project ‘Evaluating the outcome of river rehabilitation projects’.

Dr Gerardo Fragoso (Observer)

Gerardo Fragoso is responsible for the development and management of Arcadia’s environmental grants portfolio. He was previously Head of Programme at the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre, where he was responsible for overseeing the provision of advice to national and intergovernmental authorities on the protection of endangered species and their habitats. Gerardo’s professional and academic experience span marine and terrestrial conservation, both in tropical and in temperate environments. He is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, and of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Mexico). He is also a qualified financial manager.

Dr David Gibbons (Observer)

David Gibbons is the interim Executive Director of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, based in the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. David spent nearly 25 years leading the RSPB’s scientific programme, both in the UK and internationally. His role was to develop the strategic direction for RSPB’s science, ensuring that its policies and practices were evidence-based. He undertook his PhD in the Zoology Department of Cambridge University, and a post doc at the Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat in the Camargue, and at the Edward Grey Institute, University of Oxford. Subsequently David worked for the British Trust for Ornithology for seven years before joining the RSPB. He is a former Chair of the European Birds Census Council and of the Bat Conservation Trust, UK’s leading bat conservation organisation. He was a member of CCI Council for nearly a decade, serving as Vice-Chair and Chair.

Pierre Carret

Pierre Carret is an agronomist and expert in biodiversity conservation. For the last twenty years he has worked on nature conservation programs with several international organizations. His career began in the Congo Basin on European programmes for the protection of forests. He was then the first manager of the participatory science program “Gardens & Butterflies” with the association Noé and the Museum of Natural History of Paris, before joining the environment/biodiversity team of the international cooperation directorate of the European Commission. Since 2010, Pierre Carret has worked for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), first as an advisor to the Executive Director then, since 2014, as Grant Director . His missions have led him to meet and support many local associations working for the protection of nature, in more than thirty countries of the Caribbean, Africa, the Mediterranean region and the Indian Ocean. He is currently the CEPF grant director for the Mediterranean Basin hotspot, a position he holds from Sarthe, West of France, where he also manages a small-scale organic farm.

Dr Tundi Spring Agardy

Tundi Agardy is an internationally renowned expert in marine conservation, with extensive field and policy experience in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, North America and the Pacific. She specializes in ecosystem services assessment, coastal planning, marine protected areas, fisheries management, and ocean zoning, and has published widely in these fields, including recent books on Marine Protected Areas as well as Ocean Zoning, and she co-edited the Routledge Handbook on Ocean Management. She is currently Executive Director of Sound Seas, which she founded in 2001. She is Contributing Editor of Marine Ecosystems and Management (MEAM) and the World Ocean Observer (W2O). Her current work in Europe is concentrated on the Ecosystem Approach and MSP in the Mediterranean, and through GIZ Blue Planning in Practice training, worldwide. Tundi previously served as Senior Scientist for WWF and began Conservation International’s Global Marine Program, which she oversaw as Senior Director. She led the coastal portion of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. She received her Ph.D. in biological sciences and Masters in Marine Affairs from University of Rhode Island, was postdoctoral fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and completed her BA at Wellesley and Dartmouth Colleges.

Dr Philine zu Ermgassen

Philine zu Ermgassen is an honorary fellow in the Changing Oceans Group at the University of Edinburgh and an independent ecological consultant, based in Berlin. Her applied research focusses on developing a science case for marine restoration through historical ecology and ecosystem service estimates, and in developing and communicating best practice in marine habitat restoration. Since completing her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2010, she has been engaged with numerous Nature Conservancy funded research projects to set measurable restoration and conservation objectives, demonstrate the impact of restoration on ecosystem service delivery, and to articulate those outcomes for a wide range of coastal habitats globally. From 2019-2021 she supported the development of the European Native Oyster Restoration Alliance community as a member of the Secretariat, working with a diverse team of experts to develop a series of handbooks for best practice in oyster restoration globally and in Europe. She continues to engage with a wide range of marine habitat restoration and ecosystem service estimation projects with partners across the globe. 

Professor Joanne Preston

Joanne Preston is a leading expert in coastal restoration ecology, based at the Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Portsmouth. Her research group focuses on understanding the biodiversity, function, connectivity and value of marine biogenic coastal habitats and applying this to effective practice and monitoring of ecological restoration at seascape scales. In 2017 she founded the UK/Ireland Native Oyster Network with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), was a founding advisory board member for the European Native Oyster Restoration Alliance and currently leads its Monitoring Working Group. Working with a group of expert authors, Preston edited a series of habitat restoration handbooks launched at COP26. Currently she is scientific monitoring lead for the ELSP funded Solent Seascape Project and is working on projects for DEFRA, CEFAS and NERC to quantify and value the ecosystem services provided by coastal habitats. In 2022, Preston co-led the first UK conference on ecological connectivity across the temperate seascape at the ZSL bringing habitat experts together to advocate a seascape approach to ecosystem restoration. Since 2019 she has been awarded 8 grants, supervised 6 Phd students and authored over 30 scientific publications. She leads the University of Portsmouth Marine Ecology and Conservation degree module.

Dr Jordi Cortina

Jordi Cortina is a full professor of ecology at the University of Alicante (Spain), Chair of the European Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration, and member of SER Board of Directors. His research focuses on dryland ecology and restoration. He has collaborated with policy-makers and practitioners in the public and private sectors. His current focus is on participatory systematic restoration planning and ecological restoration in VET education. He has authored 197 papers, including 83 in SCI journals, and supervised 12 Ph.D. and 16 M.Sc. Through this work, he has contributed to develop new paradigms for dryland restoration and supported the adoption of new restoration practices. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in ecological restoration for 25 years and coordinated UA M.Sc. program Restoration and Management of Natural Environments.

Aniol Esteban

Aniol Esteban is the Director of the Marilles Foundation, a foundation dedicated to the conservation of the Balearic Sea and coast. He is a marine biologist and environmental economist who has devoted most of his career to reconciling the economy and the environment. He studied Biology at the Universitat de Barcelona followed by an MSc in Natural Resources and Environmental Economics from University College London. Before joining Marilles Foundation he worked for 15 years in the UK including as a Programme Director at the New Economics Foundation and as an Economist for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. He has expertise in diverse fields such as education, economics, environmental policy and project design. The sea is his passion, and if he had his way, he would rarely be sighted above water.

Ottilia Thoreson

Ottilia Thoreson is a senior analyst at the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management international cooperation unit. She manages a programme that supports and collaborates with developing countries’ government agencies in achieving sustainable marine and coastal development, mainly in the fields of marine protection and marine spatial planning. Ottilia has always had a fascination for marine life and how it connects people and cultures. She studied marine biology at the University of Plymouth followed by a MSc in Marine Environmental Protection from the University of Bangor, Wales. Ottilia has devoted a large part of her career to marine conservation with some 15 years at WWF leading a team of experts across the nine countries of the Baltic Sea to advocate for policy change and mobilise engagement from relevant stakeholders in the fisheries and agriculture sectors. Prior to joining the Swedish marine and water agency, Ottilia was the programme specialist for marine and coastal development at Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, where she led the planning, reporting and evaluation of multilateral cooperation partners.