Ben Phalan



As of 2018, I am now based at the Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil. My research is focused on how to reconcile human demands for food, wood and other products with the conservation of birds and other biodiversity. I am interested in understanding the consequences of different production trajectories for biodiversity, and in evaluating potential conservation strategies. I address these questions through fieldwork, data syntheses and spatial analysis. Collaborations include work with the US Forest Service, BirdLife International, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Rainforest Alliance, the International Institute for Sustainability and the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. I am also interested more widely in ways of identifying and resolving trade-offs between conservation and development; in the ecology, conservation and restoration of tropical forests, especially in Brazil and West Africa; in finding ways to implement land sparing in practice; in the role of sustainability standards in agriculture; and in defining conservation baselines and objectives.

I am also affiliated with the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (UK) and the International Institute for Sustainability (Brazil).

Selected publications

Benjamin T. Phalan, Joseph M. Northrup, Zhiqiang Yang, Robert L. Deal, Josée S. Rousseau, Thomas A. Spies, Matthew G. Betts (2019) Impacts of the Northwest Forest Plan on forest composition and bird populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1813072116

Phalan, B., Green, R.E., Dicks, L.V., Dotta, G., Feniuk, C., Lamb, A., Strassburg, B.B.N., Williams, D.R., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. and Balmford, A. (2016) How can higher-yield farming help to spare nature? Science 351: 450–451.

Lamb, A., Balmford, A., Green, R.E. & Phalan, B. (2016) To what extent could edge effects and habitat fragmentation diminish the potential benefits of land sparing? Biological Conservation 195: 264–271.

Phalan, B., Green, R. and Balmford, A. (2014) Closing yield gaps: perils and possibilities for biodiversity conservation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 369: 20120285.

Phalan, B., Bertzky, M., Butchart, S. H. M., Donald, P. F., Scharlemann, J. P. W., Stattersfield, A. J. and Balmford, A. (2013) Crop expansion and conservation priorities in tropical countries. PLoS ONE 8: e51759.

Phalan, B., Balmford, A., Green, R. E. and Scharlemann, J. P. W. (2011). Minimising the harm to biodiversity of producing more food globally. Food Policy 36: S62-S71.