Marcus Collier

Dr. Marcus Collier

Principal Investigator

I have spent a lot of my life working with communities and volunteers to bring them closer to nature through restoration and conservation activities. I have seen, first hand, the power that wild nature can have on people once they are facilitated. As a result, I am fascinated by the human-nature interface, and I now specialize in social-ecological systems thinking. My career pathway is best described as ‘unconventional! My many research interests include land use and land-use change, resilience thinking and societal transitioning, collaborative management and planning, and urban and rural governance. Notable examples of my research include the contentious policy issues of biomass/bioenergy land-use policies and implications, afforestation policies and acidification processes, field boundaries and agri-environmental change, resource use and after-use policies, rewilding, GM crops and biodiversity, marine and coastal governance, (cultural) ecosystem services, and well-being.

In recent years I have published extensively on contested issues such as novel ecosystems and nature-based solutions. As an environmental consultant, prior to entering academia, I worked with volunteers and non-governmental agencies to co-create and implement environmental projects through adaptive collaborative processes. I often draw on my practical experience in the co-creation and co-design of environmental projects to shape empirical research methodologies for use in testing new mechanisms for collecting data. This co-production of knowledge (transdisciplinarity) is essential for achieving the proposed Sustainable Development Goals. My Ph.D. research was an exploration of collaborative governance policies and future land use in severely damaged landscapes. For this, I examined (conflicting) stakeholder rationalities and power asymmetries. I am an Associate Professor of Sustainability Science and Director of Research in the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin. I research social-ecological systems, ecological restoration, urban ecology, nature-based solutions, and urban novel ecosystems.

Before I was awarded the funding for NovelEco, I was the principal investigator (PI) of Connecting Nature. This was an ambitious, €11.4m Horizon 2020 project consisting of 36 partners in 18 countries with hubs in Brazil. China, Korea, and the Caucasus. This project devised numerous processes for innovating with nature-based solutions and co-creating with communities in order to build climate and social resilience in cities. From 2011 to 2016, I was the PI of the TURAS project. This was a €9m, 32 partner FP7 project that co-devised over 80 strategies for transitioning towards more resilient and inclusive cities and produced two spin-out companies. I lecture in the area of social-ecological systems, sustainability science, urban sustainability, and human-nature interactions.