Mike Jones trained as a wildlife ecologist in Zimbabwe and was employed by Zimbabwe's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management. Much of his work over a period of 25 years was focused on large mammal population monitoring, sport hunting management, rangeland ecology, protected area management planning, community based natural resource management and environmental assessment.
Mike began a second career in conservation in 1995, leading community based natural resource management programs for different small US based non-profit organistions, working with farmers, foresters and fishermen in a number of countries within southern and eastern Africa. This work also entailed engagement with farmers and ranchers in the United States in various projects that enabled peer-to-peer learning among natural resource practitioners on two continents. The purpose of this work was to improve the capacity of natural resource managers on private land and enable them to share authority to manage natural resources with central government authorities. The work was founded on experience with Zimbabwe's wildlife devolutionary wildlife policy that had demonstrated the ability of farmers and ranchers to manage their wildlife effectively and develop wildlife production as a sustainable form of land use and livelihood.
In 2009 Mike moved to Sweden where, as a practitioner associate of the Resilience Alliance, he occupied an unpaid position at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, developing networks of practitioners willing to experiment with the application of social-ecological system science to natural resource stewardship. With its holistic view of nature in the context of complex adaptive systems, models based on social-ecological system theory provide a new and more useful way of understanding and managing change in living systems than previous approaches based on linear models. Mike Jones leads the Resilience Thematic Group in IUCN's Commission on Ecosystem Management, and was until 2016 a visiting scholar at the Wallow Mountain Institute in Oregon US, where he worked as a facilitator and trainer with a variety of agricultural universities and land management agencies in the application of resilience science to planning and policy processes.
Mike's work at CBM includes teaching complex systems and social-ecological systems thinking in the Society and Environment course of the Master's in Sustainable Development programme; linking CBM scientists to opportunities for international collaborative research; developing an interdisciplinary network of scientists interested in applying social-ecological system thinking to landscape scale action research projects; and enhancing teaching methods for sustainable development. Mikes research work is focused on the synthesis of scientific papers for policy audiences.