Dr Mark Spalding

Honorary Research Fellow at Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge


Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Zoology

Senior Marine Scientist, The Nature Conservancy

Chief Science Advisor, Government of the British Indian Ocean Territory

Mark Spalding has a passion for the natural environment, particularly the oceans. He has worked continuously in the international conservation arena since graduating, and while studying for his PhD. He has built up an extensive experience, including fieldwork, regional and global studies. Alongside producing key publications on tropical coastal ecosystems he has worked more widely on oceans and protected areas issues, most recently having a strong focus on measuring ecosystem service delivery at large to global scales.

Mark is a Senior Marine Scientist, Global Marine Team, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), based out of the University of Siena, Italy. He concurrently holding an Honorary Research Fellowship with the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge with some lecturing roles. Mark also has a part-time position as Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

His work centres on the assessment of global biodiversity, and on the enumeration of ecosystem services, particularly around mangrove forests and coral reefs. This includes work on nature-dependent tourism, coastal protection, fisheries, marine protected areas and mangrove restoration. Working as the principle investigator with a post-doctoral researcher and occasional additional research assistants in the University. Much of this work falls under a new multi-year, multi-organisation project entitled Mapping Ocean Wealth, of which Mark is the lead. The aim of all this work is to communicate, inform and support global science and policy audiences as a means of ensuring timely and appropriate conservation actions and investments. Alongside the global analyses are more specific regional analyses, and the provision of information and advice to others in TNC, from field-based operators to senior managers. Key components of ongoing work include:

Research and modelling of the role of ecosystems in coastal protection

Global assessment of marine protected areas coverage and efficacy

Reviewing and modelling the role of mangroves and coral reefs in fisheries enhancement

Investigations into the quantification of tourism and recreation values of key coastal ecosystems

Science communication has been a major theme for a number of years with regular interviews for print and broadcast media and contributions through educational film and radio scripts and narration.

In his role as Chief Scientific Advisor to BIOT, also known as the Chagos Archipelago, Mark provides advice to the government of this important UK overseas territory on a broad range of environmental issues, including ongoing research programmes, and on management measures around the coral reefs and islands, and the large military installation of Diego Garcia. Chagos includes one of the world's largest marine protected areas, with some of the world's least impacted coral reefs.

Mark has previously been employed as an independent consultant, with positions as a Research Associate, Cambridge Coastal Research Unit, University of Cambridge and Senior Consultant, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Outputs included: A Guide to the Coral Reefs of the Caribbean

Prior to that, he was Senior Marine Ecologist, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). Led research and managed team on coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses. Managed marine protected areas information. Outputs included Reefs at Risk, World Atlas of Coral Reefs, World Atlas of Seagrasses.

Mark did his PhD in the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. Also wrote World Mangrove Atlas.