Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.



The socio-ecology of land use intensification.

Who we are

Dr. Casey Ryan, Reader in ecosystem services and global change at the University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences.


Dr. Sam Bowers

Sam develops tools for monitoring forest change across Africa, part of the SMFM project, funded by the World Bank. He works with colleagues in Zambia and Mozambique to develop tools to monitor dry forests, savannas and woodlands with remote sensing. Full details here.

Dr. Bowy den Braber

Bowy works on the SEOSAW project, and is particularly interested in the spatial patterns of the floristic composition of the woodlands of southern Africa and how to map them.

Dr. Sam Harrison

Sam works as part of the SECO project, with a focus on spatial analyses of the carbon cycle in the dry tropics.

Current PhD students

Peter Hargreaves

Peter researches the operational integration of remote sensing into the analysis of rural poverty by using high-resolution satellite imagery and relating this to measures of wellbeing derived from household survey datasets in southern Mozambique. The objective is to explore the role that remote sensing can play in improving the monitoring of socioeconomic conditions in rural spaces. Peter is also working with the Ecosystem Services and Management Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).

Lucy Wells

Lucy is a first year PhD student researching the response of savannas and dry forests to global change, with a focus on areas of conservation concern. Her project will have a strong aspect of remote sensing to understand the effects of climate change, land use and changing CO2 on dry tropical ecosystems. Lucy is part of the SENSE CDT.

Chris Andrews

Project: Socio-ecological landscape dynamics in the headwaters of the Okavango (with the National Geographic Foundation).

James Robinson

Project: Causes and consequences of degradation in the woodlands of Tanzania

Alice Farrelly

Project: The socio-ecology of woodfuels in sub-Saharan Africa

Luisa Fernanda Escobar Alvarado

Project: Socio-ecological landscape dynamics in the headwaters of the Okavango

Lorena Benitez

Lorena’s project explores fragmentation in African savannas, address our knowledge gap first by quantifying fragmentation, intactness, and connectivity in African savannas and determining how these processes impact the survival of animals, ecosystem services such as climate regulation and carbon sequestration, and the livelihoods of people


Recent Alumni

Thom Brade

Thom’s project aimed to assess the drivers of spatial and temporal patterns of biomass change in the Miombo woodlands of south-eastern Africa with a particular interest in areas showing a trend of increasing biomass. As part of his PhD he conducted a placement with Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.

Brigadier Libanda

Brig was a PhD student studying tree growth rates across southern Africa, as part of the SEOSAW project.

Ellie Wood

Ellie studied degradation and fire socio-ecology in rural Tanzania. The miombo woodlands she worked in directly support local livelihoods as well as being globally-important carbon stores and sources of biodiversity. Ellie used social and natural science methods to study causes of woodland degradation, such as fire, and their impacts on ecosystem services to inform effective and equitable conservation. She has also undertaken work with Tree Aid as part of her PhD.

Paula Nieto Quintano

Paula finished a PhD where she set up a fire experiment in the Bateke Plateau, in the Republic of Congo, to understand the floristic composition, carbon storage, woody cover and fire regime of that mesic savanna-forest mosaic ecosystem. Her PhD was funded by the US Forest Service and the University of Edinburgh, supported by WCS Congo.

She then worked as a research assistant with TreeAID, an organisation that works on the potential of trees to reduce poverty and protect the environment in drylands in Africa. Her research explores the use of open access remote sensing approaches to develop a method to quantify the impact of TreeAID´s work on carbon stocks in forest sites in Burkina Faso. Additionally, she will assist with measurement protocols for the establishment and monitoring of permanent plots for TreeAID’s projects.

Geoff Wells

Geoff studied adaptive management and the social-ecological drivers of tree biomass and diversity in smallholder agroforestry schemes in the tropics (Mexico, Mozambique and Uganda). He used mixed-methods research using tree measurements, environmental data and social surveys/interviews.

Shawn Schneidereit

As a final year undergraduate, Shawn was a research assistant in the CycleEx project, which aims to quantify the impact of cyclone Idai on savanna-dry forest systems.

Photo by Peter Hargreaves.




Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.