A major international conference on "Intact Forests in the 21st Century" will take place in Oxford on 18 – 20 June 2018, hosted by the University of Oxford in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The conference will bring together leading scientists, researchers, policy experts and practitioners from around the world to review and debate the current state of knowledge relating to intact forests, their values, the threats they face, and the most appropriate responses.

Conference Venue

Grove Auditorium, Magdalen College, Oxford, OX1 4AU

Conference Contact

For enquiries about the conference, please contact Emily Read. | +44 (0)1865 285190

Conference themes:

Part 1

Intact Forests: definitions, measuring, mapping, values, threats and trends

We recognise this is an active area of development without a unified set of conceptual frameworks nor affordable/reliable methods for their identification. We are agnostic as to the "best" approach that will be applicable in all forest contexts; however, we hope these sessions can push the debate towards developing a framework that does a better job of accommodating the current range of perspectives.

Part 2

Management options and policy interventions to maintain intactness

We envision these sessions as an opportunity to critically discuss the range of international, national and regional efforts to manage and maintain intact forests, including their current effectiveness, limitations and potential applicability at different geographic scales. We are hoping for a debate around more innovative ways to allow for multiple uses of these landscapes while also maintaining the values that accompany forest intactness.

The exceptional value of intact forest ecosystems

This recently published paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution highlights many of the issues to be discussed at the conference. Read paper.


  • Yadvinder Malhi, Professor of Ecosystem Science, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK
  • Anand Osuri, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Earth Institute, Columbia University, US
  • Oliver Phillips, Professor of Tropical Ecology, Faculty of Environment, University of Leeds, UK
  • Peter Potapov, Research Associate Professor, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, US
  • Frances Seymour, Distinguished Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute, US
  • James Watson, Director, Science and Research Initiative at the Wildlife Conservation Society, US, and Professor at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Interim Director for the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, University of Queensland, Australia
  • Tom Griffiths, Forest Peoples Programme, UK
  • Courtenay Lewis, Natural Resources Defense Council, US
  • Sandra Nogue, Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, UK
  • Miroslav Svoboda, Czech University of Life Sciences, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences, Czech Republic
  • Ismael Nobre, Universidade Estadual de Campinas - Núcleo de Estudos da População (NEPO), Brasil
  • Franziska Taubert, Department Ökologische Systemanalyse / Ecological Modelling, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany
  • Elena Parfenova, Sukachev Institute, Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences, Russia
  • Susanne Schmitt, WWF, UK
  • Lauren Coad, CIFOR, UK
  • Lan Qie, School of Geography, University of Leeds, UK
  • Sophia Carodenuto, UNIQUE forestry and land use GmbH, Germany
  • Caroline Haywood, Climate and Forests, ClientEarth
  • Noëlle Kümpel, BirdLife International, UK
  • Nathalie Butt, The University of Queensland, Australia
  • Sean Maxwell, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, Australia
  • Leo Bottrill, Founder and CEO, MapHubs, UK
  • Anthony Swift, Natural Resources Defense Council, US
  • Tom Evans, REDD+ and Forest Conservation Program, WCS
  • Jason Scullion, McDaniel College, US
  • Mihail Hanzu, Romanian National Institute for Research and Development in Silviculture Marin Drăcea, România
  • Dominick Spracklen, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK
  • Pablo Negret Torres, Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland, Australia
  • Frank Mayle, Centre for Past Climate Change and Department of Geography & Environmental Science,University of Reading, UK
  • Nikolay Shmatkov, Forest Program Director, WWF Russia
  • Charlie J. Gardner, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent, UK
  • Paolo Tibaldeschi, WWF, Norway

Aim of the meeting

To bring together researchers and practitioners attempting to define and map "intact forests", those assessing the threats acting on these areas and the societal values derived from them, as well as those able to speak to the effectiveness of current efforts to maintain these values. An intended outcome of this meeting will be a declaration for participants to sign, identifying promising areas for further action to maintain current levels of intactness and the additional research needed to support that goal.

Scope of the meeting

The working definition of "intact forest" for the purposes of this conference is 'forest free of significant anthropogenic degradation' where anthropogenic degradation includes all human activities known to cause physical changes in a forest (including faunal changes) that lead to declines of ecological function. However, we appreciate the implementation of this definition across regions and ecotones will vary, and we intend this meeting to contribute to the development of an inclusive framework for achieving that.

All forest ecosystems are considered – tropical, temperate, boreal. The conference is not limited to systems with no trace of human influence – indeed it is commonly stated that such places no longer exist and in many cases have not existed in the recent past. The definition above is expected to stimulate scientific and policy debate around questions such as:

  • How can forest intactness and degradation be quantified? What constitutes significant degradation in this context, and how does that vary between different functions of a forest? On what scale is this occurring?
  • What are effective responses by various sectors of society to avoid declines in intact forest and what role does national and global policy play?

The conference will have two main technical sections, each approx. 1.5 days and spread over 4 sessions:

  • Section 1 - The geography of intactness – definitions, metrics, mapping, threats and values
  • Section 2 - Management options and policy interventions

Each session will comprise a combination of formal presentations by prominent scientists and practitioners as well as a carousel round of 3-4 five minute presentations to allow for a broader range of perspectives to be represented, followed by ample plenary discussion.

Additional sessions will be devoted to introductory presentations, to discussion of a proposed 'Intact Forests Declaration' which delegates will be invited to sign as well as a closing synthesis.

There will be space at the venue to present posters.

Final Programme

Conference Registration Fee

Pay online for conference registration (Opens in new window)

Conference registration includes attendance at the conference for three days, lunch, coffee breaks, and wine receptions. Conference registration does not include accommodation or conference dinner.

The concession rate is available to students and to nationals of Low and Medium Income countries.

Conference registration standard fee: £280, deadline 31 May 2018. Conference registration concession fee: £140, deadline 31 May 2018.


Conference participants are required to make their own accommodation arrangements. We recommend that you book your accommodation early. (Accommodation in college is not available as the conference is taking place in term time.) Further information about hotels and bed and breakfasts in Oxford.

Useful Oxford taxi number: Radio Cars, 01865 242424

It is anticipated that the symposium will achieve outreach through media channels, and lead to policy briefs and one or more synthesis papers and/or a special issue in a high impact journal.

Conference Partners

Wildlife Conservation Society Environmental Change Institute OCTF