Environmental Change Institute (ECI)

The ECI Ecosystem Dynamics Programme seeks to understand what makes contemporary ecosystems; and how they may be affected by direct human pressures and global atmospheric change. The tools it employs in its research include:

Intensive field observation of carbon, water and nutrient cycling; vegetation and soil properties; plant ecophysiology; and climate.

Multi decadal and large scale monitoring and analysis of ecosystem structure, composition and dynamics.

Quantitative modelling of ecosystem ecophysiology and biogeochemical cycling.

Satellite remote sensing at local, regional and global scales
Macro-ecological analysis of plant function and traits.

The programme's interests are global, but there is particularly active research in the lowland tropical forests of Amazonia and Africa, the montane forests of the Andes, and the temperate woodlands of the UK.

The programme is led by Yadvinder Malhi, Professor of Ecosystem Science at the Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, and the Jackson Senior Research Fellow at Oriel College. The broad focus of the group is to investigate the impact of global atmospheric change on the ecology, structure and composition of terrestrial ecosystems, in particular temperate and tropical forests. This Research addresses fundamental questions about ecosystem function and dynamics whilst at the same time providing outputs of direct relevance for conservation and adaptation to climate change. A particular new focus is on the role that the international carbon markets and climate change framework can play in protecting tropical forests.

The Ecosystems Dynamics Group hosts six postdoctoral researchers, eleven DPhil candidates as well as frequent visiting research fellows. Their work is primarily spread across the Amazon and Andes region of South America, but there are growing research programmes in the tropical forests of Asia and Africa. There is also an expanding network of research in temperate woodlands.

Forest Governance

The ECI Forest Governance Programme seeks to strengthen our understanding of how state and non-state institutions and actors shape decisions about the conservation and use of forest resources around the world. This research encompasses a wide diversity of governance institutions and networks, from intergovernmental processes, to government agencies, to forest and carbon certification schemes, to community-based and indigenous forest user groups. 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.

Core Research Fellows in the Forest Governance Programme:

Dr Connie McDermott: Oxford Martin Senior Fellow in Forest Governance, Comparative Forest Policy, and Forest Certification

Dr Lauren Coad: Oxford Martin Fellow in Forest Governance and Protected Areas

Dr Heike Schroder: Oxford Martin Senior Fellow in Forest Governance and the Global Climate Regime