The thematic focus of Boonstra’s research at SRC can be summarized broadly as the social dynamics and relations that shape the primary use of natural resources. His case studies - located in The Netherlands, Malawi, Australia, Vietnam, and Sweden - include investigations of how farmers and fishers impact and depend upon terrestrial and marine ecologies. He is particularly interested in understanding (mis)matches between the values, interests of farmers and fishers and the social and ecological opportunities to realize their preferred farming and fishing styles. He strives to construct case studies through a mixed-method design that includes qualitative and quantitative methods.
At SRC he also works to develop social scientific theory and method for the study of natural resource use, to contribute to the development of sustainability science in research and education. He supervises students at both MSc and PhD levels, and teaches courses at both levels. Furthermore, he also acts as an associate editor for the journal Ambio: A journal of the Human Environment, which is published by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Springer.
From an early age Boonstra has been fascinated by the diverse ways in which humans work with and dependent on nature. This fascination led him to scientifically study rural life as a MSc student (1995-2000) in Rural Development Studies, and as a PhD student (2001-2006) in Rural Sociology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. He also worked at the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences (2006-2010), the department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University (2015-2018), and spent 10 months as visiting professor at the Department of Ecology and Natural Resources and Human Ecology at Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA (2016-2017).
Results of his research have been published in several international, peer-reviewed journals. He has also written book chapters and several popular scientific essays in the form of blogs.
Research news | 2019-10-16
How long will areas inaccessible to global fish industry remain refuges for small-scale fisheries?
Research news | 2019-02-13
Despite a variety of designs, the state plays a key role in all forms of policies around biodiversity offsetting
Research news | 2018-01-29
Review study of poverty traps examines the concept’s use across disciplines, and how it is defined and applied in a rural context
Research news | 2017-12-18
The dismissal of growth in the fisheries sector in the Global North is premature
2019 - Journal / article
In this article we investigate small-scale fisheries—its characteristics and values—by considering the type of aquatic and marine environments in the Global North and South that they exploit and change. We use the literature on (small-scale) fisheries and our own studies to argue that the aquatic and marine environments where small-scale fishers currently operate are shrinking under the pressures from a globalizing and urbaniz...
2019 - Journal / article
Biodiversity offsets (BO) are increasingly promoted and adopted by governments and companies worldwide as a policy instrument to compensate for biodiversity losses from infrastructure development projects. BO are often classified as ‘market-based instruments’ both by proponents and critics, but this representation fails to capture the varieties of how BO policies actually operate. To provide a framing for understanding the emp...
2018 - Journal / article
Social–ecological systems (SES) research underlines the tremendous impact of human behaviour on planet Earth. To enable a sustainable course of humanity, the integration of human cognition in SES research is crucial for better understanding the processes leading to and involved in human behaviour. However, this integration is proving a challenge, not only in terms of diverging ontological and epistemological perspectives, but ...
2017 - Journal / article
As the world’s social-environmental problems increasingly extend across boundaries, both disciplinary and political, there is a growing need for interdisciplinarity, not only in research per se, but also in doctoral education. We present the common pitfalls of interdisciplinary research in doctoral education, illustrating approaches towards solutions using the Nordic Centre for Research on Marine Ecosystems and Resources under...