We investigate factors that explain the distributions of biodiversity features, including species, communities, and ecosystem processes. We are interested in techniques for understanding present distributions and for predicting future distributions of biodiversity features.

We develop methods and analyses that use information about biodiversity distribution in conservation decision making to answer questions such as Where to protect?, Where and how to maintain and restore habitats?, How to minimize negative impacts of land use decisions?, and What consequences will our actions have for biodiversity?

We collaborate in projects that apply quantitative methods to applied conservation decision making and account for the benefits and costs of conservation.

PI, Group leader


Research Director Atte Moilanen


I am intrigued by the concepts and paradigms of conservation biology, and my research has evolved broadly around the theory, methods and application of spatial ecology and conservation. One notable focus has been the development of ecologically based, operational, computational methods for conservation resource allocation. More technically, I’m interested for example in decision analysis, optimization, computational methods and software development.

  TUHAT database

Researchers and postdocs


Dr Enrico Di Minin

Enrico Di Minin

I joined the group in 2012 after completing a PhD in Biodiversity Management at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent. My research focuses on evaluating the economic benefits derived from biodiversity conservation, spatial conservation prioritization, and trade-offs between biodiversity conservation and alternative land uses to reduce policy conflicts, with a particular focus on Africa. I try to address these topics by using interdisciplinary research and involving conservation practitioners, making my research policy-relevant.

  TUHAT database



Dr Jussi Laitila


My research interests include theoretical and methodological background of conservation decision making and conservation strategies. I joined the group in 2011. My background is in mathematics and after earning my PhD in 2007 I have worked as researcher at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, in the Government Institute for Economic Research and in the University of Essex. See my personal web page or TUHAT database for a list of publications.

  TUHAT database
  personal web page



Dr Joona Lehtomäki


My work involves applying quantitative spatial conservation planning methods into real-life forest conservation planning problems in Finland. I am interested in how scale and the types and quality of data affect the outcomes of conservation planning studies and how computational tools and biodiversity conservation informatics can help in developing more robust conservation decision-making.

Currently I also have a temporary research position at the Finnish Environment Institute where I am working with the Forest Biodiversity Programme METSO using Zonation in real-life conservation planning in close collaboration with various stakeholders. See research database TUHAT for more information.

  TUHAT database



Dr Andrea Santangeli


I am a field biologist interested in the applied side of ecology and conservation. I joined the group in spring 2013 right after completing my doctoral thesis at the Finnish Museum of Natural History (Helsinki University). I am particularly keen in trying to answer questions relevant to help policy makers and practitioners in their decision-making. One key topic of my current research is to improve our understanding of the multiple strategies available in the conservation toolbox, and elucidate how they relate to each other and to the complex environments in which they are implemented.

  TUHAT database



Dr Tuuli Toivonen

Tuuli Toivonen

I am a tenure track professor in geoinformatics at the Department of Geosciences and Geography. I have a broad and long interest in approaches and applications of geoinformatics in spatial analyses.  During the past couple of years I have led and grown my own Accessibility Research Group and been a visiting researcher member in the CBIG, carrying out global to local spatial analyses. I am intrigued by developing and applying spatial analyses to analytically support land use and urban planning. Furthermore, I am a firm believer in open data and open science and interested their implications for education, research and society in general.

  TUHAT database


PhD students


Peter Kullberg (MSc, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

Peter Kullberg

I received my MSc in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2012 from the University of Helsinki. In the same year, I joined the group to start a PhD on data-rich, global-scale, high-resolution conservation prioritization analyses. I am especially interested in: (1) supporting effective decision-making with large-scale conservation prioritization analysis; (2) stability of the analysis under different data assumptions; and (3) ecosystem-level approaches to conservation prioritization in data-poor areas.

  TUHAT database


Timo Vaahtoranta (MSc, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

Timo Vaahtoranta

I study the multitude of ways to carrying out conservation. In my PhD, I clarify how different conservation strategies relate to one another and, ultimately, to the fundamentals of conservation biology. My interests include (1) ecology; (2) environmental law and policy; (3) the interface between the two, i.e. how ecological principles translate into conservation action in a landscape dominated by human land use.

  TUHAT database



Victoria Veach (MSc, Forest Science)


I joined the group in 2012 to edit and update the Zonation manual. I am doing a PhD studying the impact of human presence on biodiversity, how human development could impact biodiversity in the future, and how to develop conservation strategies that address regionally-specific human presence threats.


Aija Kukkala (MSc, Geography)

Aija Kukkala

I joined the group in early 2011 as a Research Secretary and started my own PhD research in summer 2014. My tasks were previously divided between research and general administration. However, since the beginning of 2016 I have fully concentrated on my PhD studies. My research topics include spatial conservation planning for biodiversity and ecosystem services, especially in the context of Europe and the European Union biodiversity and environmental policies.

  TUHAT database



Former members

Olena Kovalenko, research assistant (2014-2015)

Federico Montesino-Pouzols, Researcher (2011-2014)

Johanna Kuusterä, Research secretary (4/2012-6/2013)

Ninni Mikkonen, MSc student (2010-2012), Technical assistant

Jarno Leppänen, Software development specialist (-12/2011)

Saija Sirkiä, Postdoc (1-9/2011)

Anni Arponen, MSc student, PhD student (2006-2009) & Postdoc (-8/2011)

Astrid van Teeffelen (PhD 2007)

Jonna Katajisto (PhD 2007)

Mar Cabeza (PhD 2003)