Department / group: School of Geosciences, Geography and the Lived Environment

Research interests:

I am an environmental social scientist interested in the links between environmental change, environmental management and human development. I have two strands of research. In the first, I use ecosystem services concepts (that focus on the various benefits humans derive from nature) to do interdisciplinary work with natural and social scientists, to understand how the environment supports human wellbeing. In the second research strand, I am interested in understanding how the increasing use of ecosystem services concepts and associated policies, which are often market-based, are changing conservation practice.

One of my core interests is in developing understanding of the links between ecosystem services and human wellbeing and poverty. My postdoctoral work at Edinburgh University was within a multidisciplinary team focused on developing new conceptual approaches to the nexus between services and wellbeing. A number of aspects of this conceptual work are being investigated more empirically through our project, ACES, which examines the rural development implications of various forms of land use change in Mozambique.

Another strand of my research focuses upon the uptake and implications of ecosystem services concepts in conservation practice in the global south. Through a collaborative project with a number of scholars of environmental justice at the University of East Anglia, we are examining how conservation practitioners justify and promote pro-poor governance of ecosystem services. In parallel, we are examining how different schools of thought in political philosophy and environmental ethics also provide justification for pro-poor environmental governance. Through this, we aim to bring more discussion of philosophy and ethics into considerations of ecosystem services and human wellbeing.

Career history:

Oct 2013 – date: Chancellor’s Fellow (GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh)

Jun 2012 – Sept 2013: Lecturer – Environmental Social Science (Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter)

Feb 2011 – Mar 2012: Postdoctoral Research Associate (GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh)

2011 PhD in International Development (University of East Anglia)

Active research projects:

ACES Livelihoods and Land Use Change in Mozambique (Funded by ESPA)

WhyESPA: Why should ecosystem services be used for poverty alleviation? Establishing the ethical foundations of ESPA (Funded by ESPA)

Rethinking Environment and Development in an Era of Global Norms: An Exploration of Forests and Water in Nepal, Sudan and Uganda, and Stage 2 grant: Exploring international politics of justice on carbon forestry and hydropower (ESRC/DFID Development Frontiers Grant)

Streamlining Monitoring in Smallholder Payments for Ecosystem Services (Funded by ESPA)

Recent publications:

Jones, D., Ryan, C.M. and Fisher, J., 2016. Charcoal as a diversification strategy: The flexible role of charcoal production in the livelihoods of smallholders in central Mozambique. Energy for Sustainable Development, 32, pp.14-21.

Sikor, T., Martin, A., Fisher, J. and He, J., 2016. Briefing Note 23.1 Ecosystem services and justice. Routledge Handbook of Ecosystem Services, p.299.

Calvet-Mir, L., Corbera, E., Martin, A., Fisher, J. and Gross-Camp, N., 2015. Payments for ecosystem services in the tropics: A closer look at effectiveness and equity. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 14, pp.150-162.

Fisher, J.A. and Brown, K., 2014. Ecosystem services concepts and approaches in conservation: Just a rhetorical tool?. Ecological Economics, 108, pp.257-265.

Sikor, T., Martin, A., Fisher, J. and He, J., 2014. Toward an empirical analysis of justice in ecosystem governance. Conservation Letters, 7(6), pp.524-532.