adaptive action, evaluation, human behaviour, people, psychology, social science, systems thinking

Email Andrew

+61 8 9219 9935

+61 8 9334 0327
Street Address
17 Dick Perry Avenue, Technology Park, Western Precinct, Kensington WA 6151, Australia
Postal Address
Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre WA 6983, Australia


Andrew took up the role of Senior Research Social Scientist at the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) in 2020, returning to Australia having lived and worked in South Africa and the United Kingdom since 2002. In this role, Andrew supports and enacts government’s responsibilities by providing direction and support to the diverse range of activities undertaken by DBCA.

Andrew was the Assistant Director of Biodiversity and Conservation Science at DBCA from late 2019 to early 2020. He has previously held academic positions at the University of Stellenbosch and Rhodes University in South Africa, and most recently at Imperial College London, where he was a Director of the Masters in Conservation Science programme. Prior to entering academia, Andrew worked as a conservation planner with the (then) NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service on the expansion of the State’s protected area network and the development of systematic conservation planning approaches.

Andrew has worked and conducted applied conservation research and planning primarily in Australia, Namibia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. He has also participated in conservation research projects in northern Europe, South-east Asia, Southern Africa and North and South America. He has produced over 80 peer-reviewed articles.

Andrew completed a B.Sc. (Honours) in Earth and Environmental Sciences at Macquarie University in Sydney and his Ph.D. at Nelson Mandela University on the effectiveness of regional-scale, stakeholder-driven systematic conservation planning. His Ph.D. research examined the utility of integrating human and social data into spatial conservation prioritisations with a view to improve their feasibility, as well as the larger institutional and social processes driving the effectiveness, or not, of these initiatives.

Andrew’s research focus includes developing and applying psychometric tools and qualitative assessment techniques for understanding human values, attitudes and behaviours that can be used for monitoring and evaluation of conservation projects.


Andrew’s research has applied techniques from conservation planning, psychology, systems thinking and the organisation and policy sciences to assist government agencies to improve the approaches and outcomes of their conservation initiatives.

The foundation of Andrew's research lies in understanding the values, attitudes and behaviours of individuals and teams and the planning processes and institutions in which they work. This has included development of quantitative psychological instruments to improve the design of conservation strategies, for example, understanding the commitment of landholders to private land conservation initiatives, and the tolerance of people to human-wildlife coexistence challenges. His qualitative research has included applying systems thinking techniques to diagnose factors limiting the effectiveness of conservation initiatives, for example, palm oil supply chains and private land conservation programs. Andrew has also undertaken research into the adaptive capacity of rural landholders, social networks or subsistence natural resource users, institutional functioning and the design optimal mixes of policy instruments. Recently, his research has focused on developing techniques for understanding and positively adapting the attitudes and behaviours of conservation professionals towards learning from project failures. His early background involved research into integrating social and ecological information for holistic landscape assessments.

Brief CV

Career History

  • Senior Research Scientist | Social Science, Biodiversity and Conservation Science, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Government of Western Australia, Feb 2020 to present.
  • Assistant Director, Biodiversity and Conservation Science, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Government of Western Australia, Sept 2019 to Feb 2020.
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, United Kingdom, Jan 2013 to Sept 2019.
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Nov 2008 to Dec 2012.
  • Lecturer, Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, South Africa, Jan to July 2008.
  • Senior Project Officer, Alps to Atherton Initiative, Department of Environment & Climate Change, NSW, Australia, Jan to June 2007.
  • Ph.D. candidate, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Feb 2002 to Jan 2006
  • Implementation Specialist, Subtropical Thicket Ecosystem Planning (STEP) Project, The World Bank, Feb 2002 to June 2004.
  • Project Officer, Conservation Assessment & Priorities Unit, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney, Australia, Nov 1998 to Feb 2002.
  • Project Manager, Bioregional Conservation Strategy for the Cobar Peneplain, Conservation Assessment & Priorities Unit, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney, Australia, Aug 1997 to Nov 1998.
  • Project Officer, Conservation Assessment & Priorities Unit, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney, Australia, Feb 1996 to Aug 1997.
  • Technical Officer, Land Assessment Unit, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney, Australia, Feb 1995 to Feb 1996.


Selected Publications

  1. Knight, A.T., C.N. Cook, K.H. Redford, D. Biggs, C. Romero, A. Ortega?Argueta, C.D. Norman, B. Parsons, M. Reynolds, G. Eoyang and M. Keene. 2019. Improving conservation practice with principles and tools from systems thinking and evaluation. Sustainability Science
  2. Lyons-White, J. and A.T. Knight. 2018. Palm oil supply chain complexity precludes implementation of no-deforestation commitments. Global Environmental Change 50: 303-313.
  3. Toomey, A.H., A.T. Knight and J. Barlow. 2017. Navigating the space between research and implementation in conservation. Conservation Letters 10(5): 619–625.
  4. Kansky, R., M. Kidd and A.T. Knight. 2016. A wildlife tolerance model and case study for understanding human wildlife conflicts. Biological Conservation 201: 137-145.
  5. Wright, D., L. Underhill, M. Keene and A.T. Knight. 2015. An instrument for evaluating volunteers to improve the effectiveness of citizen science programmes. Society & Natural Resources 28(9): 1013-1029.
  6. Selinske, M., J. Coetzee, K. Purnell and A.T. Knight. 2015. Understanding the motivations, satisfaction, and retention of landowners in private land conservation programs. Conservation Letters 8(4): 282-289.
  7. Knight, A.T., R.M. Cowling, M. Difford and B.M. Campbell. 2010. Mapping human and social dimensions of conservation opportunity for the scheduling of conservation action on private land. Conservation Biology 24(5): 1348–1358. 
  8. Knight, A.T., R.M. Cowling and B.M. Campbell. 2006. An operational model for implementing conservation action. Conservation Biology 20(2): 408-419.