AI-Assisted Decision-Making for Conservation

The Harvard CRCS workshop on AI-Assisted Decision-Making for Conservation aims to identify open research questions in resource-allocation, planning, and interventions for biodiversity conservation. In particular, we seek to pinpoint conservation challenges that not only require AI solutions, but require novel methodological advances. This workshop will bring together thought leaders across academia, industry, government, and NGOs with expertise in computation, conservation, and deploying research.

Much existing work at the intersection of AI and conservation uses computer vision for biodiversity monitoring, such as supervised learning approaches to classify animals or land cover. This workshop aims to look ahead at ways to leverage and develop AI methodology for planning and policy-making, with the goal of helping conservation managers make decisions.



PDF of slides available for each talk.

Participants: for detailed schedule and talk information, please refer to the Google Doc shared via email by Lily and Esther.

Day 1: Challenges and Opportunities in Conservation
Thursday, October 20

8:30am Breakfast and check-in

Lily Xu, Esther Rolf, and Milind Tambe
Workshop overview


Session 1: Protected area management
Angela Gaylard, African Parks: Adaptive management of complex systems
Justin Brashares, Protected area and private land conservation + community engagement
Jonathan Palmer, Protected Areas and Conservation Technology
Millie Chapman, Spatial planning to support global biodiversity targets: navigating governance structures, data disparities, & dynamic ecosystems
Lily Xu, Learning and planning under uncertainty for conservation

11:30am Lunch
12:30pm Session 2: Adaptive management
Paul Moorcroft, Predictive models of animal movement
Joe Bennett, Decision-support tools for biodiversity conservation: progress and challenges
Andrew Davies, Animal-Landscape Interactions on a Changing Planet
Anthony Corso, Large-scale planning for resource management problems
Elizabeth Bondi-Kelly, Human-AI collaboration for conservation
2:20pm Break
2:40pm Session 3: AI methods for conservation
Tanya Berger-Wolf, Community engaged trustworthy AI for conservation
Dave Thau, Artificial intelligence and decision making at WWF
Lester Mackey, Improving subseasonal forecasting with machine learning
Esther Rolf, MOSAIKS: General and accessible machine learning with satellite imagery
Sara Beery, Open Challenges in Generalizable Computer Vision for Conservation
4:30pm Recap, discussion, and goal setting
5pm Break

Dinner at Forage in Harvard Square (indoor)
5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

Day 2: Methods and Synthesis
Friday, October 21

8:30am Breakfast 

Session 4: Remote sensing and earth observation
Vipin Kumar, ML and Earth Observation Data: Challenges and Opportunities for Conservation 
Claire Monteleoni, AI Research for Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability
Tanya Birch, Dynamic World and Wildlife Insights
Hannah Kerner, AI for the Digital Planet
Konstantin Klemmer, Tackling spatial residual autocorrelation (RSA) in ecological models and other geographic applications

10:50am Break
11:20am Session 5: Causality and economics for conservation
Robert Heilmayr, Conservation Impact Evaluation Using Remotely Sensed Data
Nikhil Garg, Auditing and Designing for Equity in Government Service Allocation
Andrew Perrault, Sequential decision-making in complex partially observable environments
12:30pm Lunch
1:30pm Collaborative writing
2:15pm Panel on partnerships: the role of academia
Tanya Berger-Wolf, Justin Brashares, Claire Monteleoni, Jonathan Palmer, Milind Tambe
3pm Collaborative writing, part 2
4pm Break
5pm Happy hour at Wusong Road in Harvard Square (indoor)
112 Mt Auburn St. Cambridge MA 02138



Andrew Davies (Harvard)
Andrew Perrault (Ohio State)
Angela Gaylard (African Parks)
Anthony Corso (Stanford)
Claire Monteleoni (CU Boulder)
Dave Thau (WWF)
Elizabeth Bondi-Kelly (MIT / Michigan)
Hannah Kerner (Arizona State)
Joe Bennett (Carleton)
Jonathan Palmer (WCS)
Justin Brashares (Berkeley)
Konstantin Klemmer (Microsoft Research)
Lester Mackey (Microsoft Research)
Melissa (Millie) Chapman (Berkeley)
Nikhil Garg (Cornell Tech)
Paul Moorcroft (Harvard)
Robert Heilmayr (UCSB Bren)
Sara Beery (Google / MIT)
Tanya Berger-Wolf (Ohio State)
Tanya Birch (Google Geo)
Vipin Kumar (Minnesota)


Lily Xu headshot

Lily Xu

Esther Rolf headshot

Esther Rolf

Milind Tambe headshot

Milind Tambe
Harvard  / Google

Please don't hesitate to reach out to us with any questions, ideas, or concerns!



Workshop logistics

Dates: October 20–21, 2022

Location: Harvard SEC, Room 4.307 + 4.308
Science and Engineering Complex
150 Western Ave, Boston, MA 02134

The SEC is located on Harvard's Allston campus, next to Harvard Business School.

Parking is available at the SEC, but please let us know if you will need a spot.

Hotel booking

We have secured discounted hotel rates for workshop attendees at the Hyatt Regency Boston / Cambridge. These will be the most affordable rates by far. Please see our registration email for details on how to book.

COVID policy

Vaccinations: Harvard University currently has a vaccination requirement for all University community members. All visitors to campus should expect to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and booster or proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or rapid antigen test taken within one calendar day of the event(s) on campus. More details on Harvard COVID policies.

Masking: All persons are encouraged wear a mask of any type for their own protection, or to protect someone else, if they choose to do so. We will offer university-provided surgical masks for all attendees.

Outdoor dining: We have an outdoor terrace reserved for the entire day, including breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks. Happy hour will be outdoors; dinner will be indoors due to challenges of finding a sufficiently large outdoor venue.


anthonycorso_pomdps.pdf1.32 MB
lilyxu-wildlife_conservation.pdf2.92 MB
andrewdavies_animal-ecosystem.pdf35.84 MB
elizabethbondi_human_ai.pdf2.34 MB
joebennett_decision-support.pdf1.59 MB
sarabeery-generalizable_cv.pdf4.54 MB
estherrolf-mosaiks.pdf26.6 MB
tanyabirch-dynamic_world_wildlife_insights.pdf31.23 MB
nikhilgarg-service_allocation.pdf3.84 MB
robertheilmayr-impact_evaluation.pdf7.99 MB
hannahkerner-digital_planet.pdf3.49 MB
justinbrashares-protected_areas.pdf11.41 MB
lestermackey-subseasonal_forecasting.pdf9.49 MB
angelagaylard-africanparks.pdf10.1 MB
milliechapman-spatial_planning.pdf10.75 MB
andrewperrault-sequential.pdf9.01 MB
clairemonteleoni-climate.pdf30.67 MB
konstantinklemmer-rsa.pdf1.7 MB
tanyabergerwolf-community_engaged.pdf76.52 MB
jonathanpalmer-conservation_tech.pdf12.09 MB
crcs_ai_for_conservation.pdf3.43 MB
davethau_wwf.pdf7.12 MB