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36th T B Macaulay Lecture - Conservation and the End of Nature

Professor Bill Adams, Moran Professor of Conservation and Development in the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge, will deliver the 36th T.B. Macaulay Lecture "Conservation and the end of nature" on 14 June 2013. The lecture will take place at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen and will be broadcast live to the Dundee site.

If you wish to attend the lecture in either Aberdeen or Dundee please email our events staff indicating your preferred site. Places must be booked in advance due to limited seating.

Lecture Abstract: 

In the 21st century, the scale and intensity of human impacts on the biosphere and biodiversity are widely recognised: we live in the Anthropocene, the era of humankind. Through the 20th century the conservation movement developed strategies to defend nature from human pressure. There have been successes but human impacts continue to grow.

Impoverished and novel ecosystems are being created that have no exact 'natural' analogue. These make any simple idea of 'naturalness' profoundly problematic and challenge our understanding of conservation. Are current conservation strategies suited to future challenges? Do they need to change, and if so how?

Speaker Details

Professor Bill Adams

Bill has been teaching about conservation and sustainable development since 1984. His research explores the tensions between conservation and development and draws on a range of disciplines; but particularly political ecology. Most of his work has focused on Africa and the UK.

Bill is currently studying landscape-scale conservation and ecological restoration projects in the UK and East Africa and the implications of ideas of naturalness, novel ecosystems and synthetic biology for conservation practice. He blogs at


James Hutton Institute AB15 8QH Aberdeen
United Kingdom

About the Lecture

Dr Thomas Bassett MacaulayThe annual T.B. Macaulay Lecture is held to honour the vision of Dr Thomas Bassett Macaulay, President and Chairman of the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, whose benefaction founded the original Macaulay Institute for Soil Research in 1930. He was a descendant of the Macaulays from the Island of Lewis and his aim was to improve the productivity of Scottish agriculture. This vision continues today in its successor the James Hutton Institute, a world leader in land, crop, water, environmental and socio-economic science.