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Dr. Marcus Collier

Associate Professor (Botany)

I am fascinated by the human-nature interface and I specialise in social-ecological systems thinking. My many research interests include land use and land-use change, resilience thinking and societal transitioning, collaborative management and planning, 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 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.
  Biodiversity   Biodiversity and Conservation   BIOGEOGRAPHY   Citizen Science   CLIMATE CHANGE   Coastal management and conservation   CONSERVATION   Conservation Biology   ECOLOGY   Ecology, Ecosystems   ecosystem services   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
 GoGreen Routes
 PhD Scholarship

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Details Date
Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity 2022
Chair of ERC SH7 Consolidator Award Panel 2021
Honorary scientific advisor to the Burns Bog Conservation Society, Vancouver, Canada 2006 to 2022
External evaluator for ERC Starter Grant (SH2, SH3, and LH1) Panels 2016-2022
Panel expert evaluator for the ERC Consolidator Grant (SH2 panel) 2019
Rapporteur for DG Research and Innovation: EU-Brazil Nature-based Solution dialogue, Brasilia, Brazil as the chosen representative of the European Union. 2018
External expert evaluator for the ERC Starter Grant (SH2 panel) 2018
Rapporteur for DG Research and Innovation: EU-China Nature-based Solutions dialogue, Ningbo, China as the chosen delegate from the European Union. 2016-2020
Panel expert evaluator for ERC Consolidator Grant (SH2 panel) 2017
Evaluator for Horizon 2020 (SC5) 2017
Expert evaluator for Horizon 2020 proposals (Societal Challenge 5) 2016
Expert evaluator for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions 2016-2017
External evaluator for the Government of Armenia (Twining with EU programme) 2016
Panel expert evaluator for the ERC Consolidator Grant (SH3 panel) 2015
Expert evaluator for Horizon 2020 proposals (Societal Challenge 5) 2014
Evaluator for the ERA-NET Cofund (Horizon 2020 / Societal Challenge 6) 2015
External evaluator for the Government of the Netherlands (PhD grants) 2014-2016
Scientific advisor to the Irish Dept. of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government 2005-2009
Scientific advisor to the Irish Government Sub-committee on the Environment (Peatlands) 2008
Scientific advisor to the Irish Farmers Association (Biodiversity agriculture) 2004
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
Details Date From Date To
Society for Ecological Restoration 2009 present
Geography Society of Ireland 2008 present
Grey T, Xidous D, O'Neill D, Collier M. , Growing Older Urbanism: exploring the nexus between ageing, the built environment, and urban ecosystems, Urban Transform, 5, 2023, p8 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Lodder, M.; Allaert, K.; Mulders, W.; Collier, M.J.; Dick, G.; Frantzeskaki, N.; Georgiou, P.; González, G.; Hölscher, K.; Kelly, S.; Madajczyk, N.; Notermans, I.; Pa ić, B.; Prieto González, A.; Sillen, D.; Vos, P., A practical guide to using reflexive monitoring for nature-based solutions: a Connecting Nature Guidebook, Brussels, European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, 2022, 76pp, Notes: [This guidebook offers a practical approach and tool-box for setting-up and applying reflexive monitoring. It will help practitioners to deepen their understanding of reflexive monitoring's methodology. Think of it like a cookbook that offers the ingredients, illustrations, and steps needed to get a great result, but instead of whipping up a tasty meal, you're designing your very own reflexive monitoring process.], Book, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
van der Have, C.; Hölscher, K.; Lodder, M.; Collier, M.J.; Dick, G.; Dziubala, A.; Fletcher, I.; Frantzeskaki, N.; Georgiou, P.; Kelly, S., Malekkidou, E., McCann, S.; McQuaid, S.; Mulders, W.; Notermans, I.; Pa ić, B.; Prieto González, A., Quartier, M.; Sillen, D.; Trendafilov, I.; Vandergert, P.; Xidous, D., A practical guide to using co-production for nature-based solutions, Brussels, European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, 2022, Notes: [This guidebook offers a practical approach and toolbox for designing and implementing your own co-production processes. It presents co-production as a new governance approach for working on nature-based solutions in cities and offers a practical framework for designing your own co-production approach.], Book, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
McQuaid, S.; Kooijman, E.; Fletcher, I.; Collier, M. J.; Connop, S.; García-Espina Adank, C.; Müller, J.; Quartier, M.; Vos, P., Nature-based Enterprises: a Connecting Nature Guidebook, Final, Brussels, 2022, Notes: [Nature-based solutions are complex, however, and many organisations do not have the capabilities in-house to design, deliver and manage them. Recent reports (UnaLab 2020) have shown that finding skilled and experienced suppliers is a major roadblock in the wider uptake of nature-based solutions. Nature-based enterprises can help to meet this challenge. They support cities, private-sector and third-sector organisations in the planning, delivery, and management or stewardship of nature-based solutions in urban, peri-urban (immediately adjacent to a city or urban area), and rural contexts. This guidebook helps to clarify what a nature-based enterprise is, how to find skilled and experienced nature-based enterprises and how to stimulate and support the start-up, financing, and growth of nature-based enterprises.], Book, PUBLISHED  DOI
Dumitru, A.; Tomé Lourido, D.; Collier, M.J.; Connop, S.; Dick, G.; Rhodes, M.-L.; Sermpezi, R.; Young, C., Impact Assessment: a Connecting Nature Guidebook, Final, Brussels, European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, 2022, Notes: [A robust impact assessment framework entails careful reflection and planning of monitoring and evaluation processes that pertain to the design of nature-based solutions. By definition, nature-based solutions are multifunctional. NBS assessment is central to evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of specific interventions against strategic city goals. The ultimate goal is to gather long-term solid evidence about nature-based solutions performance in particular urban contexts and for different social groups. In turn, this evidence can support smart policy decisions and adaptive co-management aspects of the NBS stewardship once installed, as well as enhance sustainability, well-being, and resilience in cities. The Connecting Nature Impact Assessment Framework is a process aimed at supporting cities in developing and successfully implementing robust monitoring and evaluation plans that can deliver systematic and comparable evidence as to NBS effectiveness. This framework represents an essential tool for adapting NBS design and implementation in real-time. Consequently, NBS interventions performance increases, and NBS can be maintained and revitalized over time.], Book, PUBLISHED  DOI
Connop, S.; Nash, C.; Collier, M.J., Technical Solutions: a Connecting Nature Guidebook, Final, Brussels, European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, 2022, Notes: ['Technical solutions' are the technical components that go into the planning, delivery and the long-term stewardship of nature-based solutions. Technical solutions would include, for example, the type of nature-based solution selected, the plants selected, anything that takes into account the local circumstances and, when it comes to the stewardship or ongoing management of the nature-based solution, feeding the results of the evaluation and on-going measurement into the project is also considered a technical aspect.], Book, PUBLISHED  DOI
McQuaid, S.; Fletcher, I.; Collier, M.J., Financing and Business Models: a Connecting Nature Guidebook, Final, Brussels, European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, 2022, Notes: [Nature-based solutions may be paid for in many ways and are often financed by a blend of different sources of finance.], Book, PUBLISHED  DOI
Lodder, M.; Allaert, K.; Hölscher, K.; Notermans, I.; Frantzeskaki, N.; Collier, M.J., Reflexive Monitoring: a Connecting Nature Guidebook, Final, Brussels, European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, 2022, Notes: [Reflexive monitoring is an evaluation method that gives urban practitioners insight into the progress of their project in real time. It helps them evaluate day- to-day activities and to respond to them while considering the bigger picture.This is especially helpful when addressing the complex challenges nature-based solutions tend to combat, such as climate change and social exclusion.], Book, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Vandergert, P.; Hölscher, K.; McQuaid, S.; Collier, M.J., Governance: a Connecting Nature Guidebook, Final, Brussels, European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, 2022, Notes: [This guidebook outlines the role of governance in implementing nature-based solutions in your city or community. Governance is broader than government. It covers legal frameworks, formal and informal networks and organisations, and the rules and policies related to whatever is governed Governments change but governance continues and evolves. Governance is also about the coordination of people and organisations so that all their activities contribute to the desired benefits of nature-based solutions. Nature-based solutions are better when people and organisations collaborate. This is because nature-based solutions are ultimately for everyone. Developing them together ensures different needs and interests are considered and that local opportunities are exploited. Collaboration also supports the long-term stewardship of a nature-based solution. For example, a local municipality that no longer has the resources to manage a nature-based solution may find a way to secure its future by involving local communities or entrepreneurs in the process. ], Book, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Hölscher, K.; Frantzeskaki, N.; Lodder, M.;, Allaert, K.; Notermans, I.; Collier, M.J., Co-production: a Connecting Nature Guidebook, Final, Brussels, DG Research and Innovation, 2022, Notes: [Co-production is a governance method that can be used by cities and other stakeholders when developing nature-based solutions in cities and for the good of cities. Not only does co-production foster collaboration and partnership but it stimulates learning among diverse actors " these actors could be civil servants, citizens, urban planners, entrepreneurs, architects, scientists, or engineers, to name but a few. In a co-production model, they contribute to the design, implementation, and management of nature-based solutions together. Actors are not just consulted or informed, they are involved from the very beginning in the process. They have a role in the making of plans, infrastructure, and policy. The goal of co-production is to generate results that may be shared with all the actors. Examples of such results would be new ways to frame a problem, or new policies and visions. By bringing diverse actors together, co-production also results in new relationships. It can therefore mobilise and empower participants to create better and greener cities and communities.], Book, PUBLISHED  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., Re-colonisation of a hedgerow after hedgelaying: using bird's nests as indicators, Environ 2005: 15th Irish Environmental Researchers' Colloquium, Sligo Institute of Technology, 28-30 January, 2005, pp1 , Notes: [Abstract: The Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) has many measures for farmland conservation. Measure 5 deals with field boundaries and advises farmers that the one way to rejuvenate an overgrown "leggy" hedgerow (Option 5A) is to use a 'traditional' form of management known as hedgelaying. Hedgelaying is suggested as a method for rejuvenating a hedgerow whilst also making them stockproof. Among countryside managers a commonly held belief is that hedgelaying is an excellent way to conserve and augment hedgerow biodiversity and hence the reason why the REPS suggests it. This is because the woody element of the hedgerow is rejuvenated, the existing (genetic) stock is maintained, species variety is conserved and the overall life of the hedge is prolonged. However, there are very few data relevant to Ireland to support these claims and much of the ecological values assigned to hedgerows in Ireland are based on studies carried out in other juristictions. This six year study was carried out subsequent to a series of hedgelaying training courses in 1998 and it shows that when a hedgerow is laid, bird species rapidly colonise the hedge and that the number of nests declines annually. This is shown by the number of nests present annually and so may serve as an indicator of the value of hedgelaying for birds. Comparison is made with the only other study carried out in these islands which was nearly 30 years ago in England.], 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., Proposal for the description and classification of wallrows in the Irish Landscape, ENVIRON 2004: 14th Irish Environmental Researchers' Colloquium, University of Limerick, Ireland, 30thJanuary-1st Febr, 2004, Notes: [Abstract: Field boundaries are a key feature of the Irish landscape and the most common of these are earthbanks, hedgerows, stone walls and fences. While carrying out a trial field boundary assessment survey form for the Field Boundary Evaluation and Grading System (Tearmann, 2003 in press), which focussed exclusively on hedgerows and dry stone walls, it was discovered that there is an undescribed classification of field boundary in Ireland. In areas where stone wall field boundaries are prevalent in the landscape it was noted that, in nearly every location, there has been some spontaneous scrub regeneration in close proximity to the wall. This regeneration is usually linear in nature, paralleling the wall itself, and often contains woody shrubs species commonly found in scrubland or in hedgerows. It is proposed that these features receive a separate classification, wallrow, and that research be undertaken into establishing their morphology, the factors contributing to their formation and their ecological role in the landscape. The purpose of this poster is to stimulate discussion on the topic, seek more information on these landscape features and to establish an opinion on whether wallrows may be ecologically important. A case in favour of separate classification is set out.], Poster, 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., Developing a field boundary evaluation and grading system in Ireland, ENVIRON 2003: 13th Irish Environmental Researchers' Colloquium, NUI Galway, 8th-10th January, 2003, Poster, PUBLISHED
Collier, M.J., Using trees and woody shrubs to intercept excess nutrient in farm and forestry runoff, 7th International Conference on Diffuse Pollution and Basin Management, Johnstown, Co. Wexford, 17th-22nd August, 2003, Notes: [Abstract: The aim of the PNtrap Project is to investigate the nutrient interception and absorption properties (N and P) of broadleaf trees and shrubs (especially native species and varieties) and the beneficial effects that they may have on watercourses. The objective is to develop trial plots and test scenarios in order to identify the optimum tree and woody shrub species. Survey work is currently under way in Co. Mayo with the assistance of the local office of Teagasc and South West Mayo LEADER Company. The project will involve the establishment of research plots on lands that adjoin water bodies. These research plots will be located on lands that have a high eutrophic potential.], 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


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Award Date
European Research Council Consolidator Award 2021
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 research investigates the complex and dynamic interface between ecosystems and a transitioning society, which I feel is highly suited to the E3 arena in TCD. My research focuses on the arenas of natural capital and urban resilience, where I investigate perceptions, values, and relationships between landscape characterises, land-use change, governance, and societal expectations. In support of the E3 project, there are three thematic areas of inquiry that have run throughout my career as a researcher, evaluator, and research manager that have relevance. These are: Environmental sciences My research here has focused on complex social-ecological systems, with particular interest in: 1. novel ecosystems and their societal implications; 2. socio-cultural ecosystem services and valuing nature; 3. social-ecological resilience in anthropogenic landscapes; 4. environmental and landscape management; 5. cultural ecosystem services and land-use change; and 6. restoration/rehabilitation ecology. Sustainability science My research in the sustainability science arena looks at: 1. transitioning to sustainability through co-creation for normative behaviour change; 2. sustainability science and transdisciplinarity (theory and practice); 3. social capital networks and their intersection with natural capital; 4. green infrastructure, multifunctionality, and nature-based solutions; 5. collaborative governance and the co-production of knowledge; and 6. sustainable urbanisation in a globalised context. Environmental geography My research here seeks to advance current theory and debates, exploring transdisciplinary approaches to crowd-sourced data gathering and analysis. This involves co-creation, co-design, and co-production of knowledge, and disseminating results to and within communities of interest. For example: 1. the Anthropocene and human/nature inter-relationships; 2. power asymmetries, conflict, and governance in the urban; environmental arena; 3. collaborative processes (citizen-led) and innovation; 4. urban-rural geographies (from production to post-production to multi-functionality); 5. complementary methodological research (qualitative and quantitative). There are several avenues in transdisciplinary research that I am currently pursuing. I have identified these as key areas of potential influence in global discourses as well as being aligned with key areas of emerging funding: 1. nature-based solutions via the co-production of knowledge, using sustainability science and crowdsourced data for communicating and transforming normative behaviour; 2. climate adaptation and the role of the 'futurescapes'; 3. emerging discourses on the utility of green infrastructure and ecosystem services; 4. exploring and quantifying novel and emerging ecosystems: the human/ecological interface in abandoned urban areas; and 5. pathways towards a science of transition: mapping crowdsourced socio-cultural values.