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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
Rapporteur for DG Research and Innovation: EU-Brazil Nature-based Solution dialogue, Brasilia, Brazil as the chosen representative of the European Union. July
Rapporteur for DG Research and Innovation: EU-China Nature-based Solutions dialogue, Ningbo, China as the chosen delegate from the European Union. November
External evaluator for the Government of Armenia (Twining with EU programme) February
External evaluator for the Government of the Netherlands (PhD grants) July
Honorary scientific advisor to the Burns Bog Conservation Society, Vancouver, Canada 2006 to 2020
Scientific advisor to the Irish Dept. of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government
Scientific advisor to the Irish Government Sub-committee on the Environment (Peatlands)
Scientific advisor to the Irish Farmers Association (Biodiversity agriculture)
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
Grace, M.; Balzan, M.; Collier, M.J.; Geneletti, D.; Tomaskinova, J.; Abela, R.; Borg, D.; Buhagiar, G., Camilleri, L.; Cardona, M.; Cassar, N.; Cassar, R.; Cattafi, I.; Cauchi, D.; Galea, C.; La Rosa, D.; Malekkidou, E.; Masini, M.; Portelli, P.; Pungetti, G.; Spagnol, M.; Zahra, J.; Zammit, A.; Dicks, L. V., Priority knowledge needs for implementing nature-based solutions in the Mediterranean islands, Environmental Science and Policy, 116, 2021, p56 - 68, Notes: [Mediterranean islands face significant environmental challenges due to their high population density, reliance on imports, and water scarcity, exacerbated by increasing risks from climate change. Nature-based solutions (NbS) could address these challenges sustainably and with multiple benefits, but their uptake in policy and planning is limited, and stakeholder perspectives are conspicuously lacking from current research. Here, we report the results of a collaborative, multi-stakeholder exercise to identify priority knowledge needs (KNs) that could enhance the uptake of NbS in Mediterranean islands. We used a well-established iterative prioritisation method based on a modified Delphi process. This was conducted by the authors, environmental policy and practice stakeholders from across the Mediterranean islands, representing business, government, NGOs and research. We developed a long list of potential KNs through individual submissions, and prioritised them through voting, discussion and scoring. Excepting workshop discussion, all individual contributions were anonymous. We present the 47 resulting KNs in rank order, classified by whether they can be addressed by knowledge synthesis and further research, or demand action in policy and practice. The top priority KNs are i) a more precise definition of NbS, ii) which NbS are adapted to dry Mediterranean conditions? iii) how to increase the adoption and use of NbS in urban plans?, iv) how can buildings and built-up areas be modified to accommodate green infrastructure and v) cost-benefit analysis of urban green spaces. In collaboration with these stakeholders, our findings will determine future research strategies on NbS implementation in the Mediterranean islands.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL  URL
Kooijman, E. D.; McQuaid, S.; Rhodes, M.-L.; Collier, M. J.; Pilla, F., Innovating with nature: from nature-based solutions to nature-based enterprises, Sustainability, 13, (3), 2021, p1263 , Notes: [Nature-based solutions (NBS) to address societal challenges have been widely recognised and adopted by governments in climate change and biodiversity strategies. Nevertheless, significant barriers exist for the necessary large-scale implementation of NBS and market development is still in its infancy. This study presents findings from a systematic review of literature and a survey on private sector agents in the planning and implementation of NBS, with the aim to identify them. In this study, we propose a typology for organisations delivering NBS and a categorisation of their economic activities. The most common organisation type found is nature-based enterprise which offers products or services where nature is a core element and used sustainably and engages in economic activity. Moreover, eleven categories of economic activities were identified, ranging from ecosystem restoration, living green roofs, and eco-tourism to smart technologies and community engagement for NBS. Nature-based enterprises contribute to a diverse range of sustainable economic activities, that standard industry classification systems do not adequately account for. The recognition of the value created by these activities is essential for designing effective policy support measures, and for market development of the sector and its potential to facilitate the wider adoption of NBS.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Collier, Marcus J., Are field boundary hedgerows the earliest example of a nature-based solution?, Environmental Science and Policy, 2021, p73 - 80, Notes: [The arrival of the phrase nature-based solutions into the lexicon of academics, planners, managers and policy makers in recent years has sparked a heated debate as to the effectiveness of using nature as a viable solution for mitigating the impacts of anthropogenic environmental change. One of the difficulties of evaluating the potential efficacy and impact of nature-based solutions is that it is believed that there is little evidence by way of a pre- cedent or long-term successful examples. Much literature exists on the subject of designing with nature to provide multi-functional green infrastructure, connectivity in the landscape, and ecosystem service provision. Indeed, in the opinion of many, the nature-based solution approach appears to synergise research into green infrastructure, ecological connectivity and ecosystem service provision for building climate-related resilience. However, when a nature-based solution has been specifically selected over, say, an engineered solution the literature is rather less clear. So, decision-makers may find it necessary to rely on less reliable sources of impact evidence. This paper argues that field boundary hedgerows may be considered to be exemplars of a nature-based solution, one that was planned, designed, perfected and mainstreamed at a landscape scale, that was specifically selected over a non-nature-based solution, and one that is still in providing solutions and co-benefits today. Therefore, hedge- rows may provide some perspective into the potential or emergent co-benefits that the current nature-based solution approach seeks to provide.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Frantzeskaki, N.; Collier, M.J.; Hölscher, K.; Ossola, A.; Albulescu, P.; Bonneau, M.; Borgström, S.; Connop, S.; Gaziulusoy, I.; Geneletti, D.; Gorissen, L.; Levin-Keitel, M.; Tabory, S.; von Wirth, T.; Vadergert, P.; Vos, P.; Dumitru, A.; Lenoir, R.; McQuaid, S.; Penha-Lopes, G.; Saeumel, I.; Sillen, D.; Wittmayer, J.M. , . Premises, practices and politics of co-creation for urban sustainability transitions, Urban Transformations, 2021, p00 - 00, Journal Article, IN_PRESS
Galle, N.; Brinton, W.; Vos, R.; Basau, B.; Duarte, F.; Collier, M.J.; Ratti, C.; Pilla, F., Correlation of WorldView-3 spectral vegetation indices and soil health indicators of individual urban trees with exceptions to topsoil disturbance, City and Environment Interactions, 11, (100068), 2021, p00 - 00, Notes: [ncreasing recognition of the potential ecosystem services provided by urban forests suggests a need to examine soil quality under urban conditions. Soil quality assessment tools are presently mostly applied in agricultural production, but these approaches must also be evaluated in the urban context. This proof-of-concept exploratory study evaluates whether Worldview-3 spectral vegetation indices (SVIs) generated for individual tree crown (ITC) objects can be correlated to soil health attributes measured in the field in Metro Boston, Massachusetts, USA. While similar studies have completed such analysis for agricultural crops, none have done so for urban trees. The statistical analysis by Pearson correlation and principal component analysis (PCA) showed that SVIs, specifically the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), correlated significantly and positively with bulk density (BD) (r = .536) and soil luminance (r = .562) and negatively with CO2 respiration (r = −.536), active fungi and active bacteria (r = −.401), and total carbon (r = −.548). The negative correlations with parameters commonly considered positive for soil health in agricultural settings may indicate strong perturbation at the urban soil surface level; they also suggest soil health attributes measured at this study's 0-15 cm sampling depth may not be satisfactorily indicative of tree health as measured by SVIs. This study evidences the ground truthing of satellite-based urban SVIs, including their relationships with soil health attributes at the individual tree level.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Patterson, J.J.; Soininen, N.; Collier, M.J.; Raymond, C.M., Finding feasible action towards urban transformations, Nature Urban Sustainability , 1, 2021, p28 online , Notes: [While innovative approaches to urban transformations are increasingly proposed, scholars often overlook challenges faced by endogenous actors (e.g. urban planners) tasked with taking action within non-ideal, real-world settings. Here we argue that an 'inside' view of transformations (focused on judgment in practice) is needed to complement existing 'outside' views (focused on assessment), where the feasibility of action becomes a central concern. This recasts urban transformations in a discretised perspective. It suggests a view of transformation pathways as both directed and stochastic, and emergent from an unfolding series of 'fuzzy action moments'. Principles for bridging urban science and planning are derived.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Frantzeskaki, N.; Collier, M.J., Co-creation as city making in the nexus of climate change and urban contradictions, Urban Transformations, 2021, p00 - 00, Journal Article, IN_PRESS
Balzan, M.V.; Grace, M.; Collier, M.J.; Geneletti, D.; Sapundzhieva, A.; Tomaskinova, J.; Longato, D.; Stoev, P.; Williams, J.; Dicks, L.V., Evidence-based implementation of nature-based solutions in Mediterranean cities, Environmental Science and Policy, 2021, p00 - 00, Journal Article, IN_PRESS
Collier, M.J.; Bullock, C.; Joyce, D.; Lennon, M., The contribution of an ecosystem services approach to strategic environmental assessment - taking an example of spatial planning in Ireland, Land Use Policy, 2021, p00 - 00, Journal Article, IN_PRESS
McPhearson, T., Frantzeskaki, N., Anderson, P.M.L., Blatch, T.. Collier, M.J., Cook, E.M., Culwick Fatti, C., Grimm, N., Haase, D., Herreros-Cantis, P., Kavonic, J., Lin, B.B., Lopez Mendez, D.H., Matsler, M., Moglia, M., Morato, J. O'Farrell, P., Jakub Grabowski, Z., Ossola, A., Roy, P., Singe, C., Wang, J., Zhou, W., A global review of nature-based solutions for urban climate change adaptation: Challenges and opportunities for mainstreaming resilience in cities, One Earth, 2021, p00 - 00, Journal Article, IN_PRESS

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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.