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Department of Zoology



I am a conservation biologist interested in how science can inform policy and action – with a background originally in tropical ornithology and behavioural ecology.

  • DPhil on cooperative breeding in Grey-capped Social Weavers in southern Kenya
  • Worked for over a decade as Head of Ornithology at the National Museums of Kenya, focused on capacity-building, citizen science and applied research
  • Former Chairman of the East Africa Natural History Society (Nature Kenya) – focused on practical conservation and science-based policy development
  • First Director of the Tropical Biology Association – starting up field training for conservation biologists from Africa and Europe
  • 12 years as Director of Science, Policy and Information at BirdLife International, working on a wide range of issues
  • Currently Technical Director at The Biodiversity Consultancy (Cambridge), where my work focuses on managing the biodiversity impacts of major development projects.


My interests are in the links between science and policy – how biodiversity information can be used to improve outcomes for conservation. My present focus is on managing the biodiversity impacts of major development projects. Topics of interest include:

  • Effective biodiversity metrics for Natural Capital Accounting (NCA)
  • Establishing coherence among emerging sectoral frameworks for NCA and other biodiversity accounting approaches
  • The business case for managing biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Practical application of the IUCN Red List and related Knowledge Products to biodiversity management
  • Policy options for regulatory biodiversity offsets frameworks in different ecological, social and economic contexts
  • Designing biodiversity offsets for highly migratory species
  • Understanding additionality of biodiversity offsets
  • Approaches to biodiversity risk assessment: delineating areas of assessment and dealing with uncertainties
  • Metrics for biodiversity and ecosystem service loss/gain accounting
  • Applying the Mitigation Hierarchy for biodiversity vis-à-vis ecosystem services: overlaps, synergies and conflicts.


Key publications: 

Bennun, L., Regan, E.C., Bird, J., van Bochove, J.-W., Katariya, V., Livingstone, S., Mitchell, R., Savy, C., Starkey, M., Temple, H. & Pilgrim J.D. 2017. The value of the IUCN Red List for business decision-making. Conservation Letters. DOI:10.1111/conl.12353.​

Ekstrom, J., Bennun, L. & Mitchell, R. 2015. A cross-sector guide for implementing the Mitigation Hierarchy. London: Cross-sector Biodiversity Initiative. 87 pp.

Pilgrim, J. D., & Bennun, L. 2014. Will biodiversity offsets save or sink protected areas? Conservation Letters 7: 423-424

McCarthy D.P., Donald P.F., Scharlemann J.P., Buchanan G.M., Balmford A., Green J.M., Bennun L.A., Burgess N.D. et al. 2012. Financial costs of meeting global biodiversity conservation targets: current spending and unmet needs. Science 338: 946–949.

Rands, M.R.W., Adams, W.M., Bennun, L., et al. 2010. Biodiversity conservation: challenges beyond 2010. Science 329 (5997), 1298-1303.

Mwangi, M.A.K., Butchart, S.H.M., Munyekenye, F.B, Bennun, L.A. et al. 2010. Tracking trends in key sites for biodiversity: a case study using Important Bird Areas in Kenya. Bird Conservation International 20: 215-230.

Bennun, L., Bakarr, M., Eken, G., Da Fonseca, G.A.B. 2007. Clarifying the Key Biodiversity Areas approach.  BioScience 57: 645

Langhammer, P.F., Bakarr, M.I., Bennun, L.A., Brooks, T.M. et al. 2007. Guidelines for the identification and gap analysis of key biodiversity areas as targets for comprehensive protected area systems. IUCN WCPA Guidelines Series no. 15. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.

Butchart, S.H.M., Stattersfield, A.J., Baillie, J.E.M., Bennun, L.A. et al. 2005. Using Red List Indices to measure progress towards the 2010 target and beyond. Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. 360: 255–268.

Bennun, L., Matiku, P., Mulwa, R., Mwangi, S. & Buckley, P. 2005. Monitoring Important Bird Areas in Africa: towards a sustainable and scaleable system. Biodiversity and Conservation 14: 2575–2590.

Balmford, A., Bennun, L., ten Brink, B., Cooper, D., Côte, I.M., et al. 2005. The Convention on Biological Diversity's 2010 target. Science 307: 212–213.

Eken, G., Bennun, L., Brooks T.M., Darwall, W., Fishpool, L.D.C., et al. 2004. Key Biodiversity Areas as site conservation targets. BioScience 54: 1110–1118.

Butchart, S.H.M., Stattersfield, A.J., Bennun, L.A., Shutes, S.M., Akçakaya, H.R., et al. 2004. Measuring global trends in the status of biodiversity: Red List Indices for birds. PLoS Biology 2(12): e383.

Bennun, L.A. 2002. The interface between research, education and training. In Norris, K. & Pain, D. (eds) Conserving bird biodiversity: General principles and their application.Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press

Muchai, M., Lens, L. & Bennun, L. 2002. Habitat selection and conservation of Sharpe’s Longclaw (Macronyx sharpei), a threatened Kenyan grassland endemic. Biological Conservation 105: 271–277.

Bennun, L.A. 2001. Long-term monitoring and the conservation of tropical wetlands: high ideals and harsh realities. Hydrobiologia 458: 9-19.

Bennun, L.A. & Njoroge, P. 2000. Important Bird Areas in Kenya. Ostrich 71: 164–167.

Nemeth, E. & Bennun, L. 2000. Distribution, habitat selection and behaviour of the East Coast Akalat (Sheppardia gunningi sokokensis) in Kenya and Tanzania. Bird Conservation International 10:  115–130.

Njoroge, P. & Bennun, L. 2000. Status and conservation of Hinde’s Babbler Turdoides hindei, a threatened species in an agricultural landscape. Ostrich 71: 69–72.

Simiyu, A.M. & Bennun, L.A. 2000. Gamebird hunting in Kenya: developing local management models. Ostrich 71: 56–60.

Waiyaki, E.M. & Bennun, L.A. 2000. The avifauna of coastal forests in southern Kenya: status and conservation. Ostrich 71: 247–256.

Bennun, L. & Njoroge, P. 1999. Important Bird Areas in Kenya.Nairobi: Nature Kenya (318 pp.)

Bennun, L.A. 1999. Threatened birds and rural communities: Balancing the equation. In: Adams, N.J. & Slotow, R.H. (eds) Proc. 22 Int. Ornithol. Congr., Durban: 1546–1555. Johannesburg: BirdLife South Africa.

Njoroge, P., Bennun, L.A. & Lens, L. 1998. Habitat use by the globally endangered Hinde’s Babbler Turdoides hindei and its sympatric relative, the Northern Pied Babbler T. hypoleucus. Bird Conservation International 8: 59–65.

Bennun, L., Dranzoa, C. & Pomeroy, D. 1996. The forest birds of Kenya and Uganda. Journal of East African Natural History 85: 23–48.

Bennun, L.A. 1994. The contribution of helpers to feeding nestlings in grey-capped social weavers, Pseudonigrita arnaudi. Animal Behaviour 47: 1047–1056.

Fanshawe, J.F. & Bennun, L.A. 1991. Bird conservation in Kenya: creating a national strategy. Bird Conservation International 1: 293–315.


Contact Details

Room 3.01 David Attenborough Building