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Dr. Marcus Collier

Assistant Professor (Botany)

I specialise in social-ecological systems thinking and the environmental governance issues at the nature-culture interface. To this end I have carried out research in: land use and land-use change, resilience thinking and societal transitioning, collaborative management and planning, urban and rural governance, biodiversity impact, as well as novel landscapes and landscape elements. 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, re-wilding, GM crops and biodiversity, marine and coastal governance, (cultural) ecosystem services, well-being and, in recent years, urban resilience and sustainable development. As an environmental consultant, prior to entering academia, I worked with communities and governmental agencies to co-devise and implement environmental projects through adaptive collaborative processes. I have drawn upon 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, I believe, for achieving the proposed Sustainable Development Goals. My PhD 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, resulting in policy prescriptions that have since been adopted by the Irish Government.
  Biodiversity   Biodiversity and Conservation   BIOGEOGRAPHY   Citizen Science   CLIMATE CHANGE   Coastal management and conservation   CONSERVATION   Conservation Biology   ECOLOGY   Ecology, Ecosystems   ecosystem services   Ecosystem(s)   ECOSYSTEMS   Education for Sustainable Development   Environmental Conservation   Environmental Geography   Environmental planning and sustainable development   Human Ecology   human geography   INNOVATION   landscape ecology   Marine Ecosystems   natural capital   Natural History   Natural Sciences   Nature conservation policy and practice   NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS   NEW NATURE   NOVEL ECOSYSTEMS   PEATLANDS   Restoration and Preservation   RESTORATION ECOLOGY   REWILDING   Social Innovation   SOCIAL-ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS   Sustainable development   Sustainable Urbanism   Urban Ecology   Urban Geography   Wetland Ecosystems   Woodlands ecology
 Connecting Nature
 PhD Scholarship

Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
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Slaev, A. & Collier, M.J., Managing natural resources: Coasian bargaining versus Ostromian rules of common governance, Environmental Science and Policy, 85, 2018, p47 - 53, Notes: [Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to explore the forms of ownership over natural resources according to the theories of Coase and Ostrom. Coase's work is regarded as a theoretical basis for establishing private ownership over natural resources, whereas Ostrom's theory is considered the most influential one supporting common/collective ownership. The key research question of the paper is whether the two theories are indeed opposite and con- tradictory. The novelty of our approach is that we account for the nature of common property rights in light of Buchanan's theory of clubs, thereby showing that the opposition between the concepts of Coase and Ostrom is exaggerated. The point is that ownership is generally considered only in its most extreme forms - purely private and purely public. By referring to Buchanan, we show that in contexts of common/collective entitlements with varying degrees of publicness/privateness, Coasean bargaining and Ostromian rules of common/collective governance can coexist and work together effectively. On this basis, this research proposes a framework for defining policies for managing natural resources.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Bullock, C., Joyce, D. & Collier, M.J., An exploration of the relationships between cultural ecosystem services, socio-cultural values and well-being, Ecosystem Services, 31, 2018, p142 - 152, Notes: [Abstract: Although there is a growing literature on cultural ecosystem services, their relationship with well-being is still being explored. This paper reports on the application of a combination of deliberative and instru- mental approaches to a coastal environment. The experience supports the ecosystem services approach and confirms the role of cultural services in providing for material as well as non-material benefits, but finds that the potential contribution to quality of life is often held-back by inadequate infrastructure pro- vision compounded by human-induced environmental impacts and failures to mitigate these. The appli- cation revealed that stakeholders are knowledgeable on facilities and local impacts and are most comfortable when discussing the natural environment in these terms. We argue that, if stakeholders are introduced to the concept of ecosystem services, these insights can be combined with local knowl- edge to strengthen communities' ability to work with the responsible authorities to achieve improved environment quality and management.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Ustaoglu, E. & Collier, M.J., Farmland abandonment in Europe: an overview of drivers, consequences and assessment of the sustainability implications., Environmental Reviews, 2018, Notes: [Abstract: In the last decades, there have been large areas of agricultural land that were abandoned in Europe, producing significant social and environmental impacts. Land abandonment is a dynamic process, which is influenced by a complex range of drivers that vary over time and space. This process is driven by a combination of socio-economic, political, and environmental factors by which formerly cultivated fields are no longer economically viable under existing land-use and socio-economic conditions. The implications of land abandonment on biodiversity and other ecosystem services can be positive or negative depending on the conservation status of the area, agro-climatic conditions, and local factors. Therefore, the scope and extent of environmental impacts vary over time and location. Considering that land abandonment is a contentious issue in Europe, there is still growing need for research on this topic. This paper reviews (i) drivers and consequences of farmland abandonment in Europe, (ii) policy measures and tools developed by the European Union in relation to land abandonment process, (iii) the impacts and indicators that are used to assess ecosystem services that are related to land abandonment, and (iv) the methods by which socio-economic, environmental, and cultural values can be assessed. An overview of key impacts and indicators and the impact assessment methodologies will guide policy-making and planning processes that focus on sustainability impact assessment of land abandonment related to ecosystem services in Europe.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Canedoli, C., Bullock, C., Collier, M.J., Joyce, D. & Padoa-Schioppa, E., Public participatory mapping of cultural ecosystem services: citizen perception and park management in the Parco Nord of Milan (Italy), Sustainability, 9, (6), 2017, p891-, Notes: [Abstract: Ecosystem services may be underestimated, and consequently threatened, when land-use planning and management decisions are based on inadequate information. Unfortunately, most of the studies aimed to evaluate and map cultural ecosystem services (CES) are not used for actual decision support therefore there is a gap in the literature about its use in practice. This study aimed to reduce this gap by: (i) mapping CES perceived by city park users through participatory mapping (PPGIS); (ii) mapping CES arising from park management (management perception); (iii) comparing citizens and park management perception to identify matches or mismatches; and (iv) discussing the utility of the data acquired and the methodology proposed to inform urban planning. The methodology presented in this study resulted in data directly informative for urban planning. It provided spatially explicit data about perceived cultural services of the park as well as information about the matching or mismatching patterns about cultural services provision comparing the users' view with the management dimension. This research demonstrated a way to use the potential of ES mapping to inform urban planning and explored the local management demand for CES mapping, showing this to be a valuable tool for effective integration into actual decision making.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Lennon, M., Scott, M., Collier, M.J. & Foley, K., The emergence of green infrastructure as promoting the centralisation of a landscape perspective in spatial planning: the case of Ireland, 42, 2017, p146 - 163, Notes: [Abstract: The 'landscape' approach to planning and design has long since advanced a social-ecological perspective that conceives ecosystems health and human well-being as mutually constitutive. However, conventional public sector organisational arrangements segregate and discretely administer development issues, thereby militating against the holistic viewpoint necessary to redress the entwined nature of complex planning issues. The emergence and continuing evolution of green infrastructure (GI) thinking seeks to redress this problem by promoting interdisciplinary collaboration to deliver connected and functionally integrated environments. This paper reflects upon the ongoing development and institutionalisation of GI in Ireland as a means to critically evaluate 'if', 'why' and 'how' GI thinking promotes the centralisation of landscape principles in public sector planning. Drawing on a review of local authority practices and interviews with local authority officials, the paper traces and explains the concept's growth from the 'rebranding' of ecological networks to its current manifestation as a new mode of collaborative planning for multifunctional environments. This material is then employed to discuss the potential benefits and barriers encountered by GI planning more generally. Lessons are subsequently extrapolated for the advancement of landscape principles through innovative GI planning practices in other jurisdictions.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Collier, M.J., Connop, S., Corcoran, A., Crowe, P., Nedović-Budić, Z., Pichler-Milanović, N., Rijavec, R., Sinclair, J., Vandergert, P. & Varghese, J., European university-community partnership-based research on urban sustainability and resilience, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability , 23, 2017, p79 - 84, Notes: [Abstract: Transitioning Towards Urban Resilience and Sustainability (TURAS) project is based on the partnership between decision makers in local authorities with SMEs and academic institutions to develop and demonstrate transition strategies for urban resilience and sustainability. Out of eleven case study sites, three are presented in this brief, including: brownfield redevelopment in London, community mobilisation around underutilisation of urban sites in Dublin, and a web portal for sustainable mobility in Ljubljana.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Collier, M.J. & Devitt, C., Novel ecosystems: challenges and opportunities for the Anthropocene, The Anthropocene Review, 2016, Notes: [Abstract: Novel ecosystems are ecological assemblages that emerge in anthropogenic landscapes where an ecological abiotic or biotic threshold has been passed and can no longer be restored to a previous state. In such landscapes, novelty is attributed to unanticipated anthropogenic environmental change, and deliberate land use practices, and can be characterised by the arrival, across time and space, of different species assemblages. While little has been explored in the literature with respect to the policy implications of novel ecosystems, calls have been made for a better understanding of the barriers to adapting to novel ecosystems in environmental law and policy. This review reports on a qualitative literature analysis which was carried out to begin to identify the challenges and opportunities for mainstreaming the novel ecosystem framework into policy. While published information is only just emerging, eleven policy challenges broadly conforming to three themes were identified. Within these themes three opportunity areas were identified, revealing that more focussed discussion is required on the wider policy implications of novel ecosystems beyond the stated concerns about lowering standards in ecological conservation. The analysis also shows that there exists a greater understanding of the challenges to mainstreaming novel ecosystems in policy, as opposed to the possible opportunities under current policy timeframes. While a resilience framework has been put forward to offer an outline for policy makers, mechanisms for incorporating novel ecosystem theory into policy and decision making is still some distance off. ], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL  URL
Crowe, P.R., Foley, K. & Collier, M.J., Operationalizing urban resilience through a framework for adaptive co-management and design: five experiments in urban planning practice and policy, Environmental Science & Policy, 62, 2016, p112 - 119, Notes: [Abstract: The emergent discourse on social-ecological resilience can be understood as a response to the rapid pace of change and severe challenges facing urban areas. This paper reports on one strand of research being carried out as part of the EU FP7 TURAS project (Transitioning to Urban Resilience and Sustainability) that aims to gain insight into the implications of social-ecological resilience thinking on urban planning practice and policy by presenting a unique, trans-disciplinary perspective that has been developed collaboratively between academic, local government and SME partners. A framework for adaptive co-management and design is introduced as a basis for the operationalisation of urban resilience, highlighting the need to actively solve problems collaboratively by exercising imagination and creativity, and presenting a new and potentially fertile source for innovation. Five experiments exploring urban planning practices relating to the framework are put forward as examples of urban resilience in practice: an online crowd-sourcing application for mapping underused spaces; an interactive timeline tool for identifying drivers of change over time; a guidance and signposting tool to help community projects overcome resource barriers; an epistemic network of citizens that exchanges knowledge and resources relating to underused spaces; and an online portal that provides visibility for community groups or projects, and facilitates horizontal networking. The paper describes each experiment, sets out the aims and theoretical contexts, records any initial findings, and reflects on the potential and limitations. Initial findings are discussed relating to the challenges of crowd-sourcing spatial or historical data, and the resource commitment required for the emerging practices. It is observed that the experiments attempt to address fundamental issues in urban planning practice and policy, and involve established and familiar activities. The paper concludes that the research provides insight into what urban resilience might mean in practice and that each experiment has the potential to make a tangible contribution to the transition to urban resilience and sustainability.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Connop, S., Vandergert, P., Eisenberg, B., Collier, M.J., Nash, C., Clough, J. & Newport, D., Renaturing cities using a regionally-focused biodiversity-led multifunctional benefits approach to urban green infrastructure, Environmental Science and Policy , 62, 2016, p99 - 111, Notes: [Abstract: If a 'Renaturing of Cities' strategy is to maximise the ecosystem service provision of urban green infrastructure (UGI), then detailed consideration of a habitat services, biodiversity-led approach and multifunctionality are necessary rather than relying on the assumed benefits of UGI per se. The paper presents preliminary data from three case studies, two in England and one in Germany, that explore how multifunctionality can be achieved, the stakeholders required, the usefulness of an experimental approach for demonstrating transformation, and how this can be fed back into policy. We argue that incorporating locally contextualised biodiversity-led UGI design into the planning and policy spheres contributes to the functioning and resilience of the city and provides the adaptability to respond to locally contextualised challenges, such as overheating, flooding, air pollution, health and wellbeing as well as biodiversity loss. Framing our research to encompass both the science of biodiversity-led UGI and co- developing methods for incorporating a strategic approach to implementation of biodiversity-led UGI by planners and developers addresses a gap in current knowledge and begins to address barriers to UGI implementation. By combining scientific with policy learning and defined urban environmental targets with community needs, our research to date has begun to demonstrate how nature-based solutions to building resilience and adaptive governance can be strategically incorporated within cities through UGI.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Collier, M.J., Connop, S., Foley, K., Nedović-Budić, Z., Newport, D., Corcoran, A., Crowe, P., Dunne, L., de Moel, H., Kampelmann, S., McQuaid, S., Schwarz von Raumer, H.-G., Slaev, A., Stumpp, E.-M., Van den Abeele, P. & Vandergert, P., Urban transformation with TURAS open innovations; opportunities for transitioning through transdisciplinarity, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 22, 2016, p57 - 62, Notes: [Abstract: Transitioning is a unidirectional process of mainstreaming sustainability within normative societal behaviour, which communities hope will build resilience, reduce our dependence on distant resources and lead to the transformation towards more sustainable living as an end product. Throughout Europe there are numerous examples and pilot or demonstration projects that illustrate tools, practices, mechanisms, pathways and policies for how transitioning can be guided and a transformation can be achieved. This paper draws on the experience of the TURAS project by illustrating some of the diverse open innovation opportunities that have been derived using novel transdisciplinary approaches. The paper concludes with identifying possible ways forward by utilising the TURAS innovations to enable the transformation of urban communities.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL

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Collier, M.J., The National Wetland Wilderness Park: a blueprint for peatland afteruse, ENVIRON 2006: 16th Irish Environmental Researchers' Colloquium, University College Dublin, Ireland, 27th-29th January , 2006, pp1 , Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Collier, M.J., Introduction to wildlife gardening, World Biodiversity Day, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, 21st May , 2005, pp1 , Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Collier, M.J., An ecological evaluation of field boundary stone walls in Ireland, Environ 2005: 15th Irish Environmental Researchers' Colloquium, Sligo Institute of Technology, 28-30 January, 2005, pp1 , Notes: [The ecological values of field boundaries in Ireland are poorly understood and many of the currently accepted values are based on extrapolated data from detailed boundary research in the UK, France and elsewhere. Though these locations have similar ecological characteristics as Ireland, and possibly a greater post-glacial biodiversity, it ought not to be concluded that Irish field boundaries have identical or even similar functions. Much of the data in Ireland relate to field boundary landscape characteristics and/or mis-management as opposed to ecological research based on field data. The limited research that has been carried out in the Irish Republic is on hedgerows and field margins. Some research has yielded data in relation to specific taxonomic groups yet it may be claimed that though much emphasis has been placed on the value of hedgerows there are little data to support this. The data that are available for stone wall boundaries are even less developed than those for hedgerow boundaries. This could be because a stone wall might not viewed as a 'living' habitat as hedgerows often are. Research on the ecology of stone walls globally is also surprisingly poor with much of the data relating to secondary (inferred) sources (Dover et al. 2000). Only two publications are exclusively concerned with stone wall ecology. Segal (1969) and later Darlington (1981) have produced seminal volumes on the ecology of urban walls and walls of old buildings. Both books refer in passing to field boundary walls but do not explore this area. In general, ecological references are few and most are unsubstantiated and even hearsay. In a trawl of the available literature it was found that no publications dealing exclusively with the ecological characteristics of field boundary stone walls, such as those that may be found throughout the Irish countryside, existed. This is quite surprising as boundary stone walls are recognised as a specialised habitat (Fossitt 2000) and are generally assumed to be of value to wildlife - in exposed areas particularly.], Poster, PUBLISHED
Collier, M.J., Stone walls in the Burren, The Review of REPS and Burren Farming, Carron, Co. Clare, Ireland, 10th December, 2004, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Collier. M.J.; McCabe, O. & Farrell, E.P., PNtrap Project: Using trees and woody shrubs to intercept excess nutrient in farm and forestry runoff, 7th IWA International Conference Diffuse Pollution and Basin Management, UCD, Dublin and Johnstown, Co. Wexford, 17th-22nd August, 2003, pp1 , Notes: [Water protection has long been a cornerstone of EU environmental policy. It is the sector with the most comprehensive coverage in EU environmental regulations (Kallis & Butler 2001). Water catchment nutrient management is poorly developed in Ireland and runoff nutrient entering watercourses is increasing (Tunney et al 2001). This has a serious and detrimental effect on water quality as well as ecological processes. In European countries such as the Netherlands, France, Sweden and Italy, national and local governments have implemented substantial programmes aimed at combating excessive nutrient loss to watercourses from agricultural, silvicultural and waste treatment activities. It has been demonstrated that many trees have the ability to intercept and absorb large volumes of nutrients (Hefting & de Klein 1998). Buffer plantations of, often, willow (Salix spp.) and other species may be established in order to effectively and efficiently intercept surface runoff of nitrate (N) and phosphate (P). In addition, such buffer plantations could themselves produce an annual crop requiring little management and low-priced technology to harvest. Yet, the science behind the application has not been established in Ireland. The PNtrap project is currently under development in the Forest Ecosystem Research Group in the Department of Environmental Resource Management, UCD. The aim of this innovative project is to investigate the nutrient interception and absorption properties (N and P) of broadleaved trees, especially native species and varieties, and the beneficial effect that this may have for watercourse management in relation to farm and forestry runoff. The objective is to develop trial plots and test scenarios in order to identify the optimum tree and woody shrub species. The PNtrap project will commence in late 2003 and will run for a minimum of three years. Though the primary aim of the project is to establish a scientific basis for the utilisation of trees and woody shrubs to intercept nutrient entering watercourses, it is hoped that this will reveal if woody buffer zones are capable of protecting water catchments from N and P enrichment in Ireland.], Poster, PUBLISHED
Collier, M.J., Hedgelaying, Ruralité, faune sauvage et développement durable: Le bocage, enjeux de territoire pour demain, Rennes, France, 16th-17th October , 2002, pp1 , Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Collier. M.J., Hedgerows in Ireland, Les haies en Europe: plantation, entretien (Hedge planting and maintenance in Europe), Rennes, France, 13th-16th June, 2001, pp1 , Conference Paper, PUBLISHED


Award Date
Government of Ireland Champion of EU Research Award; awarded by President M.D. Higgins 2011
Irish Research Council New Ideas Award 2011
University of Aberdeen: Transdisciplinary Masterclass Award 2006
University College Dublin: Graduate Research and Innovation Prize 2007
University College Dublin: Postgraduate Publication Prize 2004
My PhD research concentrated on severely damaged landscapes: resilience planning, rewilding and collaborative processes. This study was part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between several Universities (via the EPA funded BOGLAND Project). My main areas of expertise are in urban ecology, social-ecological systems, landscape and restoration ecology, environmental policies and collaborative governance. I am very interested in Novel Ecosystems and their potential for rewilding urban areas as well as urban communities and welcome all who share a similar interest! I am the leader of Connecting Nature, a €12m Horizon 2020 project which runs from 2017 to 2022 (see website). This project will develop innovations by scaling out nature-based solutions in 11 cities in Europe as well as cities in China, Brazil, Korea and the Caucasus. I am also leading a Horizon 2020 Coordination and Supporting Action - ReNature. This is a 3-year, capacity-building project aimed at widening participation in European research, and strengthening research in nature-based solutions. From 2011 to 2016 I was the leader of the TURAS FP7 project. This was a €6.8m project with 28 partners across Europe and 2 in Taiwan. TURAS has developed novel strategies, and spun out three new companies to date, that enable urban communities-of-interest to tackle urgent issues such as cliamte adaptation in urban areas to the challenges of the future using novel design, collaboration and integrated and resilient policy prescriptions. In June 2012 TURAS was awarded one of five special awards in the Champions of European Research for ranking first in the Sustainable and Resilient Green Cities section of the FP7 call topic (for scoring 15/15). I led a Work Package Leader on another FP7 project, OPERAs which studied Ecosystem Services and my focus was on socioeconomic / sociocultural values