Emma Cary’s research considers decision-making in nature restoration and rewilding initiatives across the UK.

What is your background?

My background is mixed and is my main motivation for working on an interdisciplinary research project. My academic background is in social anthropology and conservation biology, and I have worked across the public, private and third sectors. I started my career working in partnership with conservation organisations before I made the move towards working in policy analysis and creation. Although I have ended up in the Geography & Environment department at Aberdeen, I am most definitely a geography novice!

What is your research about?

My research is titled: ‘Understanding stakeholder decision-making for restoration and rewilding initiatives in the UK’. I use an ethnographic approach across diverse case studies to investigate the drivers and motivations behind restoration and rewilding projects. These drivers could be ecological, socio-cultural, political, or economic; they underpin the decisions that are made during the course of projects, and they shape the ultimate form that the rewilding or restoration projects take. My aim is to determine how these factors impact the environmental and social benefits that restoration and rewilding initiatives deliver, and what this means for people and the environment. I am based in Geography & Environment but work in collaboration with the School of Biological Sciences. My project is funded by QUADRAT DTP, which is a partnership between the University of Aberdeen and Queen’s University Belfast.

What has been the best experience to date during your PhD?

Without a doubt the best thing about my PhD is the freedom that comes with driving forward my own research project. I decide the boundaries of my research and determine the best ways of working based on my own interests – that’s everything from designing the methodology to choosing case studies. After lots of years in the workplace, this is a refreshing way to work! I am extremely fortunate to have a supervisor who encourages me to think outside of the box and embrace every opportunity to share my ideas and work with others. Without her support, my experience would be far less rich.