Zeng Yiwen

Academic qualifications

Ph.D in Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore
B.Sc (Hons) in Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

Research areas

Conservation Science and Policy, Sustainability Science, Spatial Ecology, Ecological Modelling

Research interests

Dr. Zeng is a spatial-ecological modeller who focuses on tropical conservation and sustainability. A large part of his research is aimed at finding ways to conserve nature and biodiversity that are both socially responsible and ecologically sound. His goal is to develop research that can directly inform and shape conservation and sustainability policies.


Dr. Zeng's interest in conservation science and policy started from his time as a PhD student with his work on invasive species. His research utilized ecological knowledge to develop risk assessments to guide management decisions and mitigate invasive impacts. This interest in conservation policy led him to his post-doctoral research on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Funded by the National Research Foundation’s International Collaborative Fellowship for The Commonwealth, his work on the SDGs identified important shortcomings of the main global policy framework that was designed to guide sustainable development policies to the year 2030.

Dr. Zeng's work in the Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions focuses on identifying key strategies to implement nature-based climate solutions and improve climate and conservation policies. He has determined the potential and limits of green and blue carbon financing as a means to protect tropical forest ecosystems, and assess the effects of socio-economic constraints on reforestation in Southeast Asia. He is currently focused on assessing the conservation potential and effectiveness of various area-based conservation measures across the region.

Selected publications

  1. Lin, B., Zeng, Y., Asner, GP., Wilcove, DS. (2023) Coral reefs and coastal tourism in Hawaii. Nature Sustainability. DOI: 10.1038/s41893-022-01021-4
  2. Zeng, Y., Koh, LP., Wilcove, DS. (2022) Gains in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services from the expansion of the planet’s protected areas. Science Advances. 8: eabl9885
  3. *Sarira, TV., Zeng, Y., Neugarten, R. Chaplin-Kramer, R., Koh, LP. (2022) Co-benefits of forest carbon projects in Southeast Asia. Nature Sustainability. 5: 393-396
  4. Zeng, Y, Friess, DA, Sarira, TV, Siman, K, & Koh, LP (2021). Global potential and limits of mangrove blue carbon for climate change mitigation. Current Biology. 31: 1737–1743
  5. *Koh LP, Zeng Y, Sarira TV, Siman K (2021) Carbon prospecting in tropical forests for climate change mitigation. Nature Communications 12:1271.
  6. Zeng Y, Sarira TV, Carrasco LR, Chong KY, Friess DA, Lee JSH, Taillardat P, Worthington TA, Zhang Y, Koh LP (2020) Economic and social constraints on reforestation for climate mitigation in Southeast Asia. Nature Climate Change. 10: 842–844.
  7. Zeng Y, Maxwell S, Runting RK, Venter O, Watson JEM, Carrasco LR (2020) Environmental destruction not avoided with the Sustainable Development Goals. Nature Sustainability. 3: 795–7988.
  8. Zeng Y, Yeo DCJ (2018) Assessing the aggregated risk of invasive crayfish and climate change to freshwater crabs: a Southeast Asian case study. Biological Conservation 223: 58–67
  9. Zeng Y, Low BW, Yeo DCJ (2016) Novel methods to select environmental variables in MaxEnt: A case study using invasive crayfish. Ecological Modelling 341: 5–13
  10. Zeng Y, Chong KY, Grey EK, Lodge DM, Yeo DCJ (2015) Disregarding human pre-introduction selection can confound invasive crayfish risk assessment. Biological Invasions 17(8): 2373–2385

* co-first author/co-corresponding author

Publication in mass media

  1. Begum, S. 2022. Protecting 30% of planet’s forests and habitats can save 1,000 wildlife species: Study [News feature]
  2. Jacobo, J. 2022 Protecting 30% of global land by 2030 could benefit 1,000 species, help reduce emissions: Study [News feature]
  3. Channel News Asia, 2021. Singapore's Food Problem: Carbon footprint of a food paradise [Documentary interview]
  4. Tan, A. 2020. Reforestation not a cheap fix for climate change. [News feature].
  5. Tan, A. 2020. Reforestation may not be a cheap climate fix; nature-based solution must consider trade-offs: Study. The Straits Times. [News feature].
  6. Sveriges Radio. 2020. UN global goals insufficient for the environment. [Radio Interview].
  7. Khew, C. 2015. Clawing back territory for the natives. The Straits Times. [News feature].

Conference and presentations

  1. Zeng Y, Maxwell S, Runting RK, Venter O, Watson JEM, Carrasco R (2019) Biodiversity-related SDGs: measuring the performance of 180 countries towards mitigating biodiversity loss. 29th International Congress for Conservation Biology, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 07/ 2019
  2. Zeng Y, Yeo DCJ (2017) Clawing their way through the tropics: drivers and impacts of the redclaw crayfish spread in Singapore. 20th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species, Florida, USA; 10/2017
  3. Zeng Y, Yeo DCJ (2017) Climate change increases the risk of invasive crayfish impacts on primary freshwater crabs in Southeast Asia. 3rd Southeast Asian Gateway Evolution Meeting, Bogor, Indonesia; 08/2017
  4. Zeng Y, Yeo DCJ (2016) Selecting environmental variables in MaxEnt for predictions of invasive crayfish spread. Marine & Freshwater Invasive Species: Ecology, Impact, and Management, Buenos Aires, Argentina; 05/2016
  5. Zeng Y, Yeo DCJ (2014) Global review of freshwater decapod introductions. 8th International Crustacean Conference (ICC-8), Frankfurt, Germany; 08/2014