Ideas

Craig Groves Named SNAPP Executive Director

December 8, 2014

Salinas Valley agricultural area. Photo by Flickr user Loco Steve/Creative Commons.

Science for Nature and People (SNAP)Partnership — the new science initiative producing solutions on issues from hydraulic fracturing and water quality to sustainable agriculture intensification to protecting coastlines in the face of sea-level rise — has named the globally recognized conservation leader Craig Groves as its first full-time executive director.

Groves, whose nearly 30-year scientific career includes authoring the book regarded as the bible of conservation planning, assumes the directorship of SNAP just as the initiative is poised in 2015 to deliver the first of its findings.

SNAP — launched in 2013 by The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) — already has 250 scientists from more than 100 universities tackling some of the thorniest dilemmas in the tangle of environmental degradation and human resource needs.

“SNAP is about to produce new ways forward for seemingly intractable problems that impact both millions of people and the nature they depend on,” says Groves, who is assuming his new role immediately after 7 years as senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy and previous science positions at the Conservancy and WCS.

“From how to more effectively communicate the urgency of action on climate change to how to get reliable data on the state of the world’s fish stocks — there are so many issues that need the rapid, usable approach that SNAP brings to science,” Groves adds. “I’m thrilled to lead SNAP as it begins to have a major influence on policy, investment and planning.”

Craig Groves, executive director of Science for Nature and People (SNAP)
Craig Groves, executive director of Science for Nature and People (SNAP)

For Land-Use Planning, Food & Water for a Growing Planet, & Climate Change: ‘A Director to Match SNAP’s Ambitions’

The inquiries of SNAP’s 12 Working Groups roughly fall into three major focal areas at the intersection of human well-being and nature conservation:

+ Land-Use Trade-offs, with inquiries into such topics as hydraulic fracturing and water quality, whether and how to log the world’s tropical forests to maximize benefit economies and biodiversity, and how to develop large-scale infrastructure in the Western Amazon basin.

+ Food and Water for a Growing Planet, on such issues as how to sustainably intensify agricultural production, how to provide sufficient water supplies for the world’s growing cities, and how to sustainably manage the world’s small-scale and large-scale fisheries.

+ Climate Change, looking into whether we might engineer video games to communicate effectively about climate change and how natural habitats such as oyster reefs and mangroves might provide coastal protection in the face of sea-level rise and storm surges.

“It’s hard to imagine a set of bigger issues — but we need to tackle them in order to secure a prosperous future, much less a sustainable one,” says Groves. “We need science to inform decision-making on these problems, and that’s why SNAP’s findings will be at the center of a lot of discussions moving forward.”

What differentiates SNAP is its emphasis on immediate implementation of its research findings. SNAP’s 12 Working Groups include top-caliber scientists, policymakers, bankers, engineers, corporate leaders, and others who will take up SNAP’s findings and move them immediately into real-world applications.

“SNAP is an ambitious venture — and Craig is a director to match those ambitions,” says Peter Kareiva, chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy, former interim SNAP executive director and current SNAP board member.

“He’s one of the world’s most experienced and most respected scientists in conservation, and someone with unparalleled wisdom along with technical acumen.”

“Craig has the vision and leadership skills to make sure that SNAP delivers,” adds Frank Davis, NCEAS director. “He knows all three founding organizations well, and as an NCEAS Resident Fellow and Working Group participant since 1998, he appreciates the power of collaborative working groups and open science for tackling complex environmental challenges.”

“Craig Groves will guide SNAP as we bring collective resources and capacities of our three organizations to bear on addressing some large-scale and intractable problems in conservation,” said John Robinson, WCS executive vice president of conservation and science.

“Craig is a remarkable conservation leader who has developed great respect through the years from his peers for his innovative science and collaborative spirit.”

A Global Career of Impact on Conservation

Indeed, Groves’ career has been punctuated by signature contributions to improve the practice and return on conservation efforts:

+ His 2003 book Drafting a Conservation Blueprint: a Practitioner’s Guide to Planning for Biodiversity (Island Press) has served as a model for conservation planning across the conservation community and natural resource agencies.

+ His second book, co-authored with fellow Conservancy scientist Edward Game Conservation Planning: Informed Decisions for a Healthier Planet (Roberts & Co.)is due out in 2015.

+ Groves has published over 40 peer review articles and book chapters on subjects ranging from climate adaptation to conservation planning, monitoring, and the ecology of at-risk species.

+ He currently serves as the Series Editor for IUCN’s (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Best Practice Guidelines, a set of publications intended to assist scientists, planners, managers, and practitioners in the design, establishment and management of nature conservation areas.

+ In 2015, Groves will be serving on a National Academy of Sciences team evaluating the purpose, goals, and scientific merits of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC) – applied conservation science partnerships designed to provide technical support for conservation planning and create conservation collaborations across public and private boundaries at landscape scales.

“Craig has a deep commitment to producing conservation science that helps meet the needs of nature and the world,” says Kareiva, “and he has the energy to make it happen.”

Opinions expressed on Cool Green Science and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.

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