Our current research themes include:

Collaborating to Operationalise Landscape Approaches for Nature, Development and Sustainability (COLANDS)

This is a five-year collaborative programme that aims to understand how landscape approaches can resolve competing land-use challenges to reconcile social, environmental and biodiversity goals. Over the longer term, this also aims to potentially help reduce carbon emissions, promote sustainable use of biodiversity, and alleviate poverty. It has been implemented in three tropical landscapes in Ghana, Indonesia and Zambia. The programme is a part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) and it is funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) through CIFOR and its partners.

Researcher: Alida O’ Connor, Joli Rumi Borah

The right to food: nutrition and food sovereignty in protected areas in Peru

For much of human history, forests have been helping to sustain healthy and nutritious diets directly through the provisioning of wild foods and indirectly through ecosystem services like pollination, water regulation and soil stabilization, to name a few . The UN has declared the “right to food” to be an inalienable right yet there are cases around the world where this right isn’t being respected. One of the places in which this “right to food” is most contested in inside of protected areas (PAs) where human use is often seen as detrimental to nature.  The research at Sunderland lab aims to assess the nutritional status of a Peruvian Indigenous community who live in close proximity to a protected area to gain a better understanding of their local food system and how forests can contribute to their food security. This research will also look at what living inside a legally designated PA means in terms of user rights and access within the PA boundaries.

Researcher: Winy Vasquez

Land Rights, Deforestation and Conflict in the Colombian Amazon: how they impact  the livelihoods of rural women

Land ownership in Latin America has often been secured through continued occupation and evidence of “improvement” to the land, which in many cases has consisted of clearing land for agriculture or cattle. Ownership and control of this land is being increasingly sought by powerful entities, displacing rural communities and leading to conflict. Sustainable forest management by local communities has been touted as one of the best approaches for reducing deforestation and improving rural livelihoods, but this requires secure land rights for local communities with little risk of displacement. The importance of women’s involvement in forest management is also gaining recognition, but many barriers still exist. Much is still unknown about how communities, and especially women, in this region manage their land and forest resources and how their land use decisions are made under various land tenure arrangements. This research will endeavor to understand how land rights have changed in the wake of conflict and the implications of these changes on the livelihoods of women.

Researcher: Debbie Pierce

Payment for Ecological Services: effectiveness of reciprocal water access scheme in North India

This research seeks to understand the difference between design and implementation of payment for ecological services schemes in North India. This focuses on Reciprocal Water Access, a PES scheme that was initiated for the people residing in upper and lower stream of Bohal Spring, Palampur in North India in 2010.  However, a lot of conflicts have arisen among various stakeholders involved in the project. If this loophole goes unnoticed then all the efforts of putting this agreement altogether will go in vain. It is extremely important to evaluate the effectiveness of these schemes after implementation. This research will examine the design and implementation of this PES scheme and constraints facing both beneficiaries and providers that ends up collapsed.

Researcher: Bavneet Kaur


Past research:

Impacts of soil and water pollution in Niger Delta region in Nigeria 

Soil pollution is the ninth most significant threat to soil ecosystem services in sub-Saharan Africa. The Niger Delta region, the largest Delta in Africa has the most diverse ecosystem in West Africa, providing various services to the local population and to the broad western economy of Africa. Despite the economic benefits of the region, the alarming rate of oil exploitation in this region raised a lot of environmental issues, including biodiversity loss, soil fertility loss, the erosion of riverside borders, gas flaring, soil degradation and deforestation. This has affected the subsistence of natural residents within the region. This research aims to study the effect of oil pollution on agriculture, food security and livelihood of Nigeria local communities in the Niger Delta. The study will examine the survival rate of certain selected native tree species from contaminated soil areas. The findings will potentially help to ensure that the rural population in this region have access to good nutrition and safe food to attain the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030.

Researcher: Abimbola Ilemobayo