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Will Simonson

Senior Programme Officer | Climate Change and Biodiversity

Since joining the Centre in August 2015 Will has developed and led a portfolio of projects in the fields of ecosystem based adaptation and modelling of impacts of land use policies and land cover change on biodiversity. His interests include forests, ecosystem restoration, and the synergies and trade-offs between climate change action, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods, including in agricultural landscapes and coastal land/seascapes.

Previous experience & expertise

Prior to joining the Centre Will spent six years at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge. There he coordinated the University’s Strategic Research Initiative in Global Food Security, and before that carried out doctoral and post-doctoral research in the Forest Ecology & Conservation Group, using airborne lidar to study forest structure and function. In his 25 years of professional experience he has worked for both governmental and non-governmental nature conservation organisations, including 12 years working in Portugal for the conservation charity ‘A Rocha’ and supporting projects in countries including the Lebanon, Ghana and Kenya. He holds an undergraduate degree in botany (Cambridge) and masters in environmental technology (Imperial College London).

Recent work by Will Simonson

Restore+ (2017-2021) |

Will is UNEP-WCMC’s technical lead on this collaboration led by IIASA to investigate how the countries of Brazil and Indonesia can meet their large-scale landscape restoration commitments. The project is identifying a range of restoration scenarios in each country and modelling their respective impacts on environmental and societal goals. UNEP-WCMC is focussing on biodiversity impacts and opportunities, employing a range of analytical tools.

Global trends in forest vertebrates (2018-2019) |

Will has led work commissioned by WWF-UK to enhance the coverage of forest species in the Living Planet database, assess trends in forest species abundance and analyse these trends in relation to changes in forest cover as measured using remote sensing.

Building Capacity for Coastal Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Small Island Developing States (2014-2016) |

Will helped to prepare and publish technical guidance materials on coastal EBA options, including a decision support tool that can guide the process of incorporating coastal EBA principles into national planning. He provided training at workshops for government officers in two regions, with the ultimate objective of building the resilience of coastal communities to climate change.