Academic Year 2022-2023
Institution University of Aberdeen


School: School of Geosciences in collaboration with the School of Biological Sciences

Project: Understanding stakeholder decision-making for rewilding and restoration initiatives in the UK

Supervisors: Dr Flurina Wartmann, Dr Paul CaplatProfessor Xavier Lambin

Undergraduate Education: MA(Hons) Social Anthropology with Development, University of Edinburgh

Postgraduate Education: MSc Conservation Biology, Durrell Institute of Conservation & Ecology, University of Kent

Research: Boosted by both public and private investment, nature recovery and restoration initiatives are increasing in popularity as mechanisms to address the biodiversity crisis. However, the decision-making processes behind these initiatives are yet to be thoroughly investigated and understood. This research explores nature recovery and restoration projects as social-ecological systems to:

  1. investigate stakeholder motivations and identify factors that foster or hinder the adoption of nature recovery and restoration approaches, including socio-cultural, economic and ecological considerations, and;
  2. study empirically how stakeholder decision-making is linked to the implementation of nature recovery and restoration initiatives and their ability to deliver a range of ecosystem services.

My fieldwork will use a comparative case study approach across diverse case settings in the UK, drawing primarily on social science methodologies to unpack and understand the drivers of environmental decisions. This research will address the evidence gap for tools which are increasingly drawn upon to deliver environmental goods and services, whilst also feeding into wider discourse around ‘green recovery’. Our reliance on ecosystems and nature to deliver resilience and recovery will inevitably result in further pressures from competing land uses and interests. In this emerging context, understanding of stakeholder decision-making and local conditions is critical if policy responses are to be successful, fair, and inclusive, and scientific evidence is to be translated effectively into improved environmental and societal outcomes.