Mark is a marine scientist with a passion for the world’s oceans. He has worked for TNC since 2004, and is based out of the Conservation Science Laboratory in the University of Cambridge (where he also does a small amount of lecturing). Prior to joining the Conservancy, Mark worked for the United Nations Environment Programme. He also worked in the field, looking at coral reefs and fish populations, notably around a number of remote islands in the Indian Ocean.
Mark’s work centres on the assessment of global marine biodiversity. For many year years this work could be summed up in 3 broad questions: What is where in the ocean? What state is it in? What are we doing about it? These questions led to Mark’s authorship on a host of acclaimed publications from the World Atlas of Coral Reefs in 2001 to the World Atlas of Mangroves in 2010. Mark led the description of the world’s marine ecoregions and provinces which have become critical tools in understanding patterns in marine biodiversity and in prioritising actions. He has also regularly published maps and statistics tracking conservation progress through the development of marine protected areas around the world. This is not static observation and, with partners, he has regularly sought to use detailed scientific description and enumeration to challenge current trends and boost global conservation efforts.
Mark’s most recent work focuses on the enumeration of ecosystem services and he is co-leading TNC’s new Mapping Ocean Wealth initiative. While conservation has tended to focus on “nature for nature’s sake” there is a growing realisation that we should also be protecting nature in many places for “people’s sake”. All too often we often overlook or undervalue a host of benefits that nature provides to people – food, coastal protection, water purification, recreational benefits and carbon storage, to name a few. If we can accurately understand and model how much these services are worth, in terms of jobs, food security, economic wealth or other metrics, we should be able to drive a fundamental change in attitudes across society. Nature conservation for human benefits is no longer a niche interest. It becomes the job of central government, local communities, industry, engineering, planning, insurance, banking and many more. What is urgently needed is the accurate science to prove the case and support the implementation, and alongside this the skilful and reasoned communication of such knowledge. Mark is fully engaged in these efforts.