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Director, Conservation Measures

As Director of Conservation Measures for the Wildlife Conservation Society, David Wilkie seeks to strengthen the practice and impact of WCS conservation worldwide. David joined WCS in 2001. Since then he has led efforts to ensure that WCS field programs identify explicit conservation objectives for which we hold ourselves accountable, and tactically monitor and report our conservation progress. Today he leads our 5-measures approach to evidence-based conservation.

He is a founder of the Conservation Measures Partnership – a joint venture of conservation NGOs committed to improving the practice of conservation by promoting adoption of a consensus-based set of standards for planning, implementation and measuring conservation impact. He was co-chair of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, and helped establish the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights. He is a member of the WCS Institutional Review Board for protection of human subjects. He is the director of the Ituri Forest Peoples’ Fund – a special project of Cultural Survival. David has over 30 years of experience working in international conservation in Central Africa, Central and South America and Asia. He is a Ph.D. wildlife ecologist with a post-doctoral anthropology specialization in the socio-economic drivers of natural resource use practices. His work covers the impacts of commercialization of non-timber forest products on forest conservation; the role that logging plays in the commercial wildlife trade; the role that income, prices, and taste preferences play in determining demand for wildlife; the use of conditional direct payments as a tool for biodiversity conservation in developing countries; and the use of satellite imagery, and agent-based, spatial simulations to model present and future tropical forest loss. He has published more than 140 peer reviewed articles and books.

Conservation Social Scientist
As a Conservation Social Scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Dr. Kretser improves conservation of wildlife and wildlands by using tools and perspectives from the social sciences to incorporate the human dimensions of natural resource policy and management into conservation practice. She is a member of the WCS Social Safeguards Management Team and serves on the WCS Institutional Review Board. Dr. Kretser has worked in conservation over 25 years and has been with WCS for over 20 years in numerous capacities, notably establishing two community-based conservation programs in the Adirondacks and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Her current projects include building constituents for conservation through creating effective communication that generates action on topics as varied as wildlife trafficking and white-nose syndrome, devising strategies for reducing the impacts of private lands development and recreation on wildlife, and building collaborative approaches for increasing community and natural resource governance capacity and achieving conservation outcomes for wildlife while safeguarding human well-being across diverse constituents. Dr. Kretser’s work receives research support from many state and federal agencies including the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. She is widely published and her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and a variety of regional media outlets. She completed her Ph.D. in the Human Dimensions Research Unit at Cornell University and holds a master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry. In addition to her work at WCS, Dr. Kretser serves as Adjunct Associate Professor at Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources where she’s affiliated with the Center for Conservation Social Sciences.

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