Furness, Ella

Ella Furness
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
A study of integrated socio-ecological restoration initiatives at community level in Great Britain
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Karen Henwood & Susan Baker
Supervising school:
School of Social Sciences, ; Sustainable Places Research Institute,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

I completed a degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at Sussex University, (1998) then trained and worked as a community worker and managed a social enterprise (community wood recycling) project in Bristol (2000-2010). After which I completed a two year research based MSc at the University of British Columbia (Climate Change: Assessing the Adaptive Capacity of Community Forests, 2012).

At Cardiff I am funded by the ESRC 1+3 scheme and the Scottish Forestry Trust. This has enabled me to do an MSc in Social Science Research Methods at Cardiff University and I am now working on my doctorate.

My research is about community participation in ecological restoration. We have seen that restoration is more successful if it engages local people and is embedded in local history, society and culture, and there is substantial evidence that participation in activities like restoration can improve human wellbeing. However, in addition to these well supported areas of knowledge, there is a premise that participation in ecological restoration can create long term, durable relationships between people and ecosystems; which once established, can provide an underpinning to a change in the way humans relate to nature: from a way based on the consumption of nature to one based on reciprocity. Thus, restoration is thought to have the potential to contribute towards sustainability. Within the literature these ideas are influential; but evidence to suggest that those engaged in restoration have a different relationship with nature or ‘the land’, or that communities involved in or hosting restoration are more sustainable is sparse. My research aims to look at the impacts of participation in restoration to see what role, if any, it could play in building sustainable communities.

Wider research interests

I have trained in aspects of both natural and social sciences, and drawn to interdisciplinary working, particularly in multidisciplinary teams where perspectives are shared and built upon.  I think that in land management, climate change adaptation and conservation (to name a few areas) this way of working is essential: both to society and the environment.  I blog on the Sustainable Places Research Institute website.


Furness, E. and Nelson, H. 2015. Are human values and community participation key to climate adaptation? The case of community forest organisations in British Columbia. Climatic Change, pp. 1-17.

Furness, E., Harshaw, H. and Nelson, H. 2015. Community forestry in British Columbia: Policy progression and public participation. Forest Policy and Economics 58, pp. 85-91.

Furness, E., and Nelson, H. (2012) Community forest organizations and adaptation to climate change in British Columbia. The Forestry Chronicle. 88:5

Furness, E.  (2012) Adapting to Climate Change: Are British Columbia’s Community Forests Meeting the Challenge? British Columbia Community Forest Association, Extension Note 6.

Furness, E.  (2012) The Adaptive Capacity of Community Forests to Climate Change. Report commissioned by Natural Resources Canada for the Canadian Forest Service.

Mulkey, S., Day, J. K., Rau, M., Koot, C.E., Furness, E., (2013) The Community Forestry Guidebook II: Leadership Governance and Forest Management. FORREX Forum for Research and Extension in Natural Resources

Conference presentations

Furness, E.  Royal Geographic Society-IBG: International Conference 2015 Ecological restoration in the Anthropocene: What is the place of human values in restoring environments? Exeter, UK.

Furness, E. Society for Ecological Restoration International: Conference 2015 Human values and restoration, Manchester, UK.

Furness, E.  Community Forests and Adaptation to Climate Change in British Columbia, Canada New Challenges in Community Forestry Sharing Scientific Knowledge in a South- North perspective 2013 Conference. Remscheid, Germany

Furness, E.  Community Forests and their Adaptation to Climate Change. British Columbia Community Forest Association, 2012 Conference and AGM. Kaslo, BC.

Furness, E., Community Forests and Adaptation to Climate Change: A proposal. British Columbia Community Forest Association, 2011 Conference and AGM. 100 Mile House, BC