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Hugh Possingham

Hugh Possingham

Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy, Brisbane, Australia and Arlington, Virginia

The Nature Conservancy


  • Chief Scientist, The Nature Conservancy, Brisbane, Australia and Arlington, Virginia


In 2016 Hugh became The Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the world’s largest environmental non-government organization. He is based in Arlington Virginia (USA) and Brisbane (Australia).

His expertise is in ecology, applied mathematics, spatial planning, operations research and economic instruments for conservation outcomes. He has coauthored >650 refereed publications covered by the Web of Science (>30+ in the world’s top journals: Science, Nature or PNAS). He has supervised >80 PhD students and >50 postdoctoral fellows. In 2016, Hugh was elected a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious science academy in the world. He is one of less than 500 foreign associates in the National Academy of Sciences globally.

As the Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy Hugh guides and promotes the work of our >350 practicing scientists working in 72 countries and every state of the US. He chairs the SNAPP (Science for Nature and People Partnership) board and represents The Nature Conservancy on the Natural Capital Partnership led by Stanford University. “Global Science” reports to Hugh – a collection of >30 people working to assist all aspects of science across the conservancy with the primary purpose of ensuring that The Nature Conservancy is a science-based organization. Hugh works with, and is guided by, a Scientific Advisory Council and the Cabinet of Lead Scientists (ten of TNC’s senior scientists).

Hugh has contributed to innumerable boards and expert advisory committees over the past 30 years. He was the inaugural chair of the Australian federal government Biological Diversity Advisory Committee. He is a founding member of the Wentworth Group that leads Australia’s water reforms. With Dr Martine Maron and others he developed a credible but expedient biodiversity offset calculator that is having global impact. The idea of using basic cost-effective decision-making, developed with Dr Liana Joseph and Dr Richard Maloney, is changing how we allocate money to threatened species and conservation actions around the world including the USA.

External Links

Journal Articles

In Press

Iacona, G. D., W. J. Sutherland, B. Mappin, V. Adams, P. R. Armsworth, T. Coleshaw, C. Cook, I. Craigie, L. Dicks, J. A. Fitzsimons, J. McGowan, A. Plumptre, T. Polak, A. Pullin, J. Ringma, I. Rushworth, A. Santangeli, A. Stewart, A. Tulloch, J. Walsh and H. P. Possingham. Standardized reporting of the costs of management interventions for biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13195. (link )


Possingham, H. P. and L. R. Gerber. 2017. Ecology: The effect of conservation spending. Conservation Biology 551(Nov):309-310. DOI: 10.1038/nature24158. (link )


Gerber, L. R., M. Beger, M. A. McCarthy and H. P. Possingham. 2005. A theory for optimal monitoring of marine reserves. Ecology Letters 8(8):829-837. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2005.00784.x. (link )


Gerber, L. R., L. W. Botsford, A. Hastings, H. P. Possingham, S. D. Gaines, S. R. Palumbi and S. Andelman. 2003. Population models for marine reserve design: A retrospective and prospective synthesis. Ecological Applications 13(Sp. 1):47-64. DOI: 10.1890/1051-0761(2003)013[0047:PMFMRD]2.0.CO;2. (link )