Research Group

Recent outputs

Full list of publications from the Ecosystem Governance Group

Our work

The ECI Ecosystem Governance Programme seeks to strengthen our understanding of how state and non-state institutions and actors shape decisions about the conservation and use of forests, and about the interface of forests with other land uses. This research encompasses a wide diversity of governance institutions and networks, from intergovernmental processes, to government agencies, to market-based sustainability certification, to locally based and indigenous resource management. A core aim of our research is to better understand how governance systems organize and distribute decision-making authority across conflicting interests, from the local to global scale, and the resulting impacts of such systems on forests and people.

Current projects

Forests and agriculture
  • Funding: European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie program
  • 2017-2019
  • ECI Lead: Dr Kaysara Khatun

Land Use and Resource Management at the Agricultural- Forest Frontier (LAMAR)

LAMAR aims to explore the inter-relationships between conservation and agricultural practices in order to determine how sustainable land use practices can be created and strengthened over time. Research lines include assessing Ecosystem Services to humans, as well as factors that are causing ecosystem change, such as commercial agricultural production (e.g. the demand for cash crops such as soy and palm oil) which can affect the long-term resilience of such ecosystems. LAMAR will take into account the discourses, practices and social relationships around land use that are currently unfolding within the 'realpolitik' of a studied region. The findings are expected to be complementary to climate change mitigation efforts and feed into policy processes targeted at improving food security, conservation, and local livelihoods.


Exploring the ecosystem limits to poverty alleviation in African forest-agriculture landscapes (ECOLIMITS)

ECOLIMITS is a consortium project looking at ecosystem services, degradation and links to poverty in the cocoa farm and forest landscape around Kakum National Park, Ghana, and the coffee growing landscape of south-western Ethiopia.

Cattle: by Thomas Sennett, World Bank
  • Funding: Global Innovations Initiate & Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
  • 2014 – 2016
  • ECI Lead: Dr Constance McDermott

Climate change mitigation, avoided deforestation and commodity agriculture: Assessing private sector innovation for sustainable coffee and cattle in Brazil

This project draws on evidence from the coffee and cattle sectors in Brazil to inform how certification and sustainability standards might contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from forest loss.

Protected Area
  • Funding: The Swedish Research Council Formas
  • 2014 – 2017
  • ECI Lead: Dr Constance McDermott

Effective and equitable institutional arrangements for financing and safeguarding biodiversity

This research assesses the use of safeguards at international and national levels as strategies to ensure that biodiversity financing mechanisms (BFM), such as payments for ecosystem services (PES) and biodiversity offsets, support livelihoods. At the international level, the analysis focuses in particular on agreements on biodiversity (CBD), climate change (UNFCCC) and international human rights law. The national-level analysis contrasts the approaches of Sweden, Mexico and Ecuador.

Natural Resources
  • Funding: The Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Canada
  • 2015 – 2018
  • ECI collaborator: Dr Constance McDermott

Governing Natural Resources in a Global Era: Actors, Practices, and Outcomes

This research examines the governance of mining and forestry globally and through selected country and company comparative case studies.

  • Funding: The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.
  • 2015
  • Project advisor: Dr Constance McDermott

A Trustmark for the Sharing Economy UK (SEUK)

The UK’s sharing economy trade body, SEUK, is partnering with the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School to develop a ‘trustmark’ for the sharing economy. The aim of the trustmark is to establish responsible practices to guide both sharing economy businesses and consumers.

Recently completed projects

  • Funding: European Union FP7
  • 2011-2015
  • ECI Lead: Dr Constance McDermott

Governing the EU's Global Forest Footprint

This project forms a part of the EU 7th Framework Programme project INTEGRAL: Future-oriented integrated management of European forest landscapes. The forest governance group’s role in this study is to review the current state of knowledge on the EU’s global footprint, assess EU policy responses, and consider how this knowledge might inform participatory processes addressing land use in the EU.

  • Funding: Skoll Centre Competitive Research Grant
  • 2012-2015
  • ECI lead: Dr Constance McDermott; Collaborator: Caitlin Schindler

Certification, trust and the creative consumer

This project involves research and first-stage development of a mobile App to empower small and medium-sized wood producers to practice sustainable forestry and communicate their knowledge and practices across the supply chain. The app combines information and interactive learning on the forests of origin with storytelling, pictures and videos to recreate social and emotional connections between producers and purchasers.

Tourism in forests
  • Funding: ESPA
  • 2010-2012
  • Co-I: Dr Constance McDermott, Dr Lauren Coad

Safeguarding local equity as the global value of ecosystem services rise

This project develops and applies a conceptual framework that analyses the links between ecosystem services and sustainable poverty reduction, examining in particular how benefits derived from ecosystem services are distributed among different stakeholders, the factors underlying these processes and their potential impacts. In particular, the framework aims to help decision-makers in REDD and PES programmes minimise negative impacts on equity and maximise positive impacts on poverty alleviation.


Qualifying carbon: building trust and credibility in REDD+ through reflexive, multi-level governance

This research assesses the multi-level governance of REDD+ safeguards. It is grounded in a case study of community implementation in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and looks upwards to Mexico’s many regional, national and international REDD+ activities and how they influence outcomes within this case study. Analysis includes a comprehensive institutional mapping of REDD+-related activities and associated safeguards and an assessment of how the dynamics of trust and power mediate inter-institutional relationships and the prescriptiveness or flexibility of REDD+ safeguards. The research from this project has been integrated into the above project on “Effective and equitable institutional arrangements for financing and safeguarding biodiversity".