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

UBC Farm Forest Inventory

Between July 2020 and May 2021, the Sunderland conducted an extensive survey of UBC Farm’s 79 acres of forest. The goal of the project was to answer questions about the presence and distribution of various tree species at the UBC Farm’s forest. These findings have been visualized into ecological functions and tree charts. See more here! Also check out some pictures from the data collection in the UBC Farm here.

Researcher: Sunderland Lab

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

The impacts of land-use change on ecosystem services in Zambia from 2000-2020

Ecosystem services (ES) are the benefits that humans could directly or indirectly obtain from nature. ES can be categorized into four groups by functions: provisioning services, supporting services, cultural services, and regulating services. Ecosystem degradation is a serious problem in Africa due to rapid economic development. However, research on ecosystem services in Africa is lacking compared to other regions of the world. Furthermore, the limited studies mainly focus on comprehensive policy analysis on a large scale, rather than quantification, mapping or evaluation. Therefore, it is necessary to map and quantify changes in ecosystem services at a landscape scale in these areas. A quantitative assessment of ecosystem services is important for management and conservation of natural ecosystems. Therefore, my research goal is to model the impact of land-use on multiple ecosystem services in Zambia. My research results can improve recognition and application of ecosystem services, as well as contribute to future biodiversity conservation amid ongoing land-use change.

Researcher: Diling Liang

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

An overview of ecological tea plantations in China: Agroforestry in practice

The concept of “composite ecological tea gardens” was introduced to China in 1986. In less than forty years, this type of complex agroforestry has become commonplace all over the country. These systems have a variety of functions and are located in a range of geographies. This study focuses on the effects of intercropping with shade trees and analyzing the benefits of such systems using six criteria: tannin content, microbial environment, ecological environment, multiple ecological niches, prevention of pests and diseases, and soil conditions.

Researcher: Fiona Feng

Assessing the evolution and implementation of Forest Landscape Restoration: A review

Under the auspices of the Bonn Challenge, a global movement is currently underway. To help mitigate some of the planet’s most pressing crises, including deforestation, biodiversity loss, and a changing climate, global commitments have been made to restore 350 million hectares of degraded lands by 2030. The goals of this research are to, first, undertake a comprehensive, systematic global assessment of how ths commitment Forest Landscape Restoration is evolving in concept, and, second, to assess the state of its documented implementation in the field. The results will support greater awareness of gaps and opportunities for in-time course adjustment by global stakeholders with a vested interest in ensuring the success of global restoration.

Researcher: Juliana Kaufmanis

From deforestation to forest landscape restoration: lessons from the Cocoa and Forest Initiative to operationalize integrated landscape approaches in Southern Ghana

Globally, deforestation and biodiversity loss remain critical pervasive problems in tropical forests. Through a multi-stakeholder process, collective action and adoption of landscape approaches, the Cocoa and Forest Initiative (CFI) in Ghana is being implemented within hotspot intervention areas (HIAs); to simultaneously address deforestation, restore degraded forests and improve human well-being.  This research seeks to apply the ten principles of integrated landscape approaches to the CFI in the Ahafo Regional HIA; to examine and identify any gaps that encumber active multi-stakeholder participation, especially of local communities and effective cross-sectoral collaboration that seeks to achieve climate, conservation, and development objectives in the long-term. The output of this research will highlight the jurisdictional overlaps and multiplicity of actors. This will thus provide a clear contextual background that enables the application of foresight and innovation tools to foster long-term effective cross-sectoral collaboration and active participation of local communities in forest landscape restoration, through decision-making and communication.

Researcher: Joseph Mumuni

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

Selecting local leaders to support forestry extension dissemination in Ghana: implications for management of Rattan cane extraction in High Forest Zone (HFZ) communities 

Disseminating extension services to forest dependent communities is one of the main forms of natural resource management in many settings around the world. And recently, local forest communities are increasingly playing an active role in the dissemination process, particularly with regard to high value forest products such as rattan cane. This is, in part, due to efforts to arrest challenges caused by a lack of trained agents for servicing large rural populations. In this regard, local leaders have emerged as important actors within rural communities for facilitating collaborative and participatory extension delivery. This research investigates how local leaders are recruited in forest communities to support extension delivery processes, specifically focusing on which leader agents typically enlist for support, and what considerations factor into agents’ recruitment decisions. The study finds that agents typically work with traditional authorities or leaders such as chiefs and, to a lesser extent, leaders of local and individual groups, including trade-based or gender-based groups. The study recommends improved legislation to empower traditional leaders to enforce extension provisions and general conservation regulations. It also proposes that design of extension dissemination processes be gender-sensitive to ensure fair and equitable access to services for women.

Researcher: Sheriff Ola