She has a PhD in Natural Research Management (Systems Ecology), Stockholm University and did a post doc at Geography Department at McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
Her research concerns emergent and self-organized governance of local ecosystems in human dominated landscapes, and the implications for social-ecological resilience and transformation. She is currently involved in two research projects, see more below, as well as research-policy project on connecting knowledge systems for ecosystem governance, in collaboration with the SwedBio Programme.
1. Governance of Ecosystem Services under Scenarios of Change in Southern and Eastern Africa
The research programme on the "Governance of Ecosystem Services under Scenarios of Change in Southern and Eastern Africa" is a collaboration between the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa, and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) in The Netherlands.
The programme is funded by the Swedish international development cooperation agency (Sida), and has the following main objectives:
- to generate innovative tools to assess and map multiple ecosystem services in data poor situations;
- to identify trade-offs and synergies among ecosystem services and human well-being, especially in the context of non-linear ecosystem changes; and
- to gain an understanding of potential pathways for transformation towards improved governance of ecosystem services, including the escape and avoidance of social-ecological poverty traps.
Maria is particularly involved in the conceptual work on the links between ecosystem services and poverty alleviation, in particular the role of cultural ecosystem services, and village level research, investigating the role of culture in mediating the generation and appreciation of ecosystem services in the context of circular urban labour migration, in collaboration with the PhD-student Vanessa Masterson and Marja Spierenburg at VU.
The research is further concerned with the importance of human-nature interactions, including 'sense of place' for both coping with and adapting to change (resilience) and developing into the future (transformation). Read more.
2. Bridging the science-policy gap for governance of ecosystem services – lessons learned from sacred ecosystems
The project is a collaboration with SRC and ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Research on Ecology and the Environment), India, and focuses on the role of sacred sites in particular and civic involvement in general for improving governance of ecosystems services and ecosystems in human dominated landscapes.
The research involved synthesis evidence of the role of sacred sites for generating ecosystem services and governing ecosystem, as well as case study research of the role of sacred trees and civic involvement in ecosystem governance in Bangalore, India.
The project has a strong component of influencing policy and e.g. contributed to a recent report on urbanization and biodiversity in India presented in association with the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO) at the COP 11 meeting of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderbad, in October 2012.
Research news | 2016-02-29
Centre’s approach to social-ecological systems helps support UN biodiversity assessment
Research news | 2015-06-05
Special issue highlights the social importance of ecosystem services in urban areas
Research news | 2014-09-05
Citizen networks important for ensuring successful management of urban ecosystems in growing cities
Research news | 2014-07-23
Special issue of Current Conservation on why it's time to start thinking of cities as more than grey patches of asphalt and concrete
2015 - Journal / article
In this paper, we build on common-pool research and adaptive management to increase our understanding on if and how communication between resource users affects their joint ability to learn about and manage complex ecological resources. More specifically we study the role of user communication in relation to learning through continual experimentation when managing a complex resource system involving resource interdependencies....
2015 - Journal / article
Quality of life in cities depends, among other things, on ecosystem services (ES) generated locally within the cities by multifunctional blue and green infrastructure. Successfully protecting green infrastructure in locations also attractive for urban development requires deliberate processes of planning and policy formulation as well as broad public support. We propose that cultural ecosystem services (CES) may serve as a u...
2014 - Journal / article
How to create and adjust governing institutions so that they align (fit) with complex ecosystem processes and structures across scales is an issue of increasing concern in conservation. It is argued that lack of such social-ecological fit makes governance and conservation difficult, yet progress in explicitly defining and rigorously testing what constitutes a good fit has been limited. We used a novel modeling approach and d...
2014 - Journal / article
Citizen groups can be important actors in urban environmental stewardship, and network structure often influences function and performance. However, most previous studies focus on cities in "developed" countries, thereby overlooking conditions relevant for the parts of the planet where most people live and most urban growth is expected. This paper describes a citizen network engaged in environmental issues in Bangalore, Indi...