Understanding the impact of conservation interventions in the Geldmann Group

The Geldmann Group focuses on understanding global patterns of anthropogenic threats to biodiversity and how conservation interventions can help curb these. To address these questions, we take an interdisciplinary approach, building on ecology and the social sciences to reconcile biodiversity conservation with sustaining the livelihood of people living in and around nature.

Rhinoceros conservation


Our research focuses on understanding and assessing the impact of conservation interventions and in particular how resources, management, governance, and socio-economic context influences the effectiveness and performance of protected areas.

Global patterns of anthropogenic threats to biodiversity

Funded by the Sapere Aude Research leader programme of the Independent Research fund Denmark, the group works on mapping the distribution of threats to biodiversity to gain a deeper understanding of what drives global patterns as well as how they relate to conservation interventions. Using the IUCN Red List data for all amphibians, birds, and mammals we have generated global maps of the ‘likelihood of impact’ for the five main threats to biodiversity identified by IPBES. Using these maps, we are exploring what socio-economic, biological, and geological factors explains the geographical patterns of threats and how they relate to conservation interventions and the overarching human drivers of biodiversity declines. We are also interested in how threats interact to identify areas under higher threat than predicted by simply overlaying the likelihoods of individual ones.

Understanding the impact of protected area

Protected areas are amongst the most important conservation interventions and cover more than 15% of Earths terrestrial surface with international ambitions to increase that number to 30% by 2030. Thus, understanding whether protected areas safeguard biodiversity and the livelihood of people living in and around them is paramount. We investigate these questions using data on management effectiveness, socio-economic context, as well as conservation outcomes (e.g., threat reduction or changes in biodiversity) and applying quasi-experimental approaches (like statistical matching) to gain a deeper understanding of what makes protected areas effective.

Improving the effectiveness of protected areas

How to measure and assess the effectiveness of protected areas required balancing the cost and time committed to evaluations, with capturing the right information to improve effectiveness at the site-level. At the same time, information from protected area assessments can generate data that can be used to explore the question of effectiveness more broadly and identify best-practices. Through our involvement in the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas’ Management Effectiveness Specialist Group we work with managers across to world to understand how to best capture the essential elements of management for tracking progress at the global and national levels, as well as how that can be used to improve evidence-based conservation practices on the ground.



  1. Harfoot et al. (2021) Using the IUCN Red List to map threats to terrestrial vertebrates at global scale. Nat Ecol Evol(2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01542-9 
  2. Geldmann et al. (2019) A global-level assessment of the effectiveness of protected areas at resisting anthropogenic pressures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1908221116
  3. Geldmann et al. (2018) A global analysis of management capacity and ecological outcomes in terrestrial protected areas. Conservation Letters http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/conl.12434
  4. Geldmann, Joppa and Burgess (2014) Mapping Change in Human Pressure Globally on Land and within Protected Areas. Conservation Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12332



The Geldmann Group has received a funding from the Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF) and the Aage V. Jensen Nature Fund


Jonas Geldmann

Group Leader

Jonas Geldmann

Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate
Twitter: @jgeldmann
Phone: +45 35 32 04 22
Mobile: +45 29 90 51 92

Group members

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Jonas Geldmann Assistant Professor +4535320422 E-mail

Name Title Phone E-mail
Anna Rex Elmgreen MSc Student E-mail
Julie Munk Sejer MSc Student E-mail
Jana Tabea Schultz MSc student E-mail
Claire Ract MSc Student E-mail
Alexander Jakob Kolsboe Knarberg BSc Student E-mail