Social and Economic Research Group

The Social and Economic Research Group (SERG) is an interdisciplinary group carrying out research to develop a better understanding of the ways in which trees and woodlands can benefit society and how we make decisions about their creation, management and use.

The SERG is  based at two main locations, Alice Holt in Surrey (England), the Northern Research Station near Edinburgh (Scotland), with one member of the group based near Aberystwyth (Wales).

Dr Liz O’Brien - Head of Social and Economic Research Group

Liz O'Brien Liz is researching forestry’s contribution to public education and learning, and health and well being. She also explores the way in which people value trees and woodland.

She has a Social Science PhD and her previous work includes research on land management and environmental conservation by organisations, landowners and farmers.

Dr Bianca Ambrose-Oji - Social Scientist

Claudia CarterBianca contributes to a variety of the social research programmes under the “Well Being and Governance” and the “Social Inclusion, Enjoyment, Use and Management” themes. Her key research interests and expertise relate to: the best ways of linking communities to forest and woodland use and management, as well as exploring ways to link communities with forestry agencies and foresters; the development of research methods that can link the needs and concerns of the public to policy makers; the development of adaptive forms of forest governance that respond to changing social, economic and ecological conditions.

She has 18 years of experience in social forestry and forest governance and joined Forest Research in October 2008.

Dr David Edwards - Project Manager

David Edwards David leads research on two related agendas: the interfaces between science, policy and practice, and the social and cultural values meanings associated with forests. He manages the new FC-funded research programme ‘Integrating research for policy and practice’ which seeks to enhance the impact of research by improving the level of integration between researchers and the quality of knowledge exchange with decision-makers and land managers across the public and private sectors.

He has an interdisciplinary background, with formal training in forestry and ecology, and a doctorate in social and political sciences. His PhD thesis examined the causes and consequences of land-use change in southern Tanzania over a 100 year period. Prior to that, he worked as a researcher on community forestry and rural development programmes in Africa and South Asia.

Dr Mariella Marzano - Research Scientist

Mariella MarzanoMariella contributes to a variety of interdisciplinary research programmes including adaptive forest management, human dimensions of species management, green network planning for people and biodiversity and risk management and communication.

She has Ph.D. in Social Anthropology, which explored rural development and natural resource management issues in Sri Lanka. Prior to joining Forest Research in 2007 she carried out research into volunteer biodiversity monitoring networks and co-managed a pan-European COST Action – INTERCAFE - aimed at developing interdisciplinary networks for the management of human-wildlife (specifically cormorant-fisheries) conflicts.

Dr Jake Morris - Research Scientist

Jake MorrisJake is researching local and regional stakeholders' perceptions of sustainability issues and developing social criteria and indicators to assess the impacts of European policy on land-use. He is also exploring barriers to increased levels of physical activity in the countryside.

He has a Social Science PhD and worked as a post-doctoral research fellow before joining Forest Research.

Dr Vadim Saraev - Economist

Vadim SaraevVadim is planning the development and integration of economics research into the Forest Research portfolio.

He has a PhD on monetary issues in transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe and has worked for the Bank of Finland Institute for Economies in Transition and the Department of Economics at the University of Stirling.

Dr Gregory Valatin - Project Manager

Gregory Valatin Gregory is planning the development and integration of economics research into the Forest Research portfolio.

He has a PhD on "Justice, Human Security and the Environment" and has worked for Imperial College, London on the impact of electricity market reforms in developing countries on poverty and renewable energy.

Dr Tom Connolly - Statistician

Tom ConnollyTom supports the work of SERG and Forest Research as a statistical consultant. His PhD thesis developed competition models in agricultural variety trials. He works with researchers across a range of scientific disciplines, with a particular interest in experimental design and analyis.

Dr Mike Dunn - Social Scientist

Mike DunnAs a Social Scientist in the Social and Economic Research Group, Mike assists with collecting and interpreting data on perceptions, attitudes and behaviours to help inform forest policy and management decisions.

Dr Jack Forster - Statistician

Jack ForsterJack supports the work of SERG and Forest Research as a statistical consultant, and works with researchers across a range of scientific disciplines. Prior to joining Forest Research in 2015, Jack worked as a statistician at both the Home Office and the Department for Energy and Climate Change. He has PhD in theoretical ecology, with specific focus on the response of growth rate and body size to increasing temperature in ectothermic organisms.

Dr Mark Atkinson - Behavioural Scientist

Mark AtkinsonMark is a Behavioural Scientist who contributes to a range of interdisciplinary programs within SERG. He conducts work on attitudes, perceptions and behaviours concerning tree diseases and pests, as well as creating resilient woodlands and forests. He is also engaged in developing indicators of cultural ecosystem services using national forest inventory data and identifying measures of value for these services.

Mark has a PhD in social and cognitive psychology. He has postdoctoral experience conducting research using longitudinal survey methods.

Post-graduate students

The Social and Economic Research Group works in collaboration with a range of institutions to develop post-graduate studentships, including PhDs, EngDs and CASE Studentships.

Katherine King
Under representation of social diversity focussing on young people and their use of woodlands to promote health and well being.

Anna Manukyants
Identifying the social value of forests through choice experiments.
Voluntary access agreements with riparian landowners.

Pernille Schiellerup
Identity and environmental governance: Institutional change in contemporary British forestry policy and practice.

Jalilah Jumaat
Recreational disturbance in UK forests: an interdisciplinary investigation into ecological and social dimensions.

Sarah Pohlschneider
Mapping and Repositioning Forestry Skills for the 21st Century.

What's of interest

Growing Places
Growing Places

Social and Economic Research Group newsletter

Cover of Trees and forests in British society
Trees and forests in British society

How our social and economic scientists have explored what Britain’s trees and woodlands mean to people, how they are used and how they can contribute to the social and cultural life of the country.

Related pages