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Personal profile



My research addresses wellbeing and environmental justice among rural populations, particularly Indigenous Peoples and local communities in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and South America. I use mixed-method approaches to explore many aspects of rural life, though currently focus on the interlinked themes of biodiversity conservation, agriculture and climate change.

I am a member of The Global Environmental Justice Group, an interdisciplinary group of scholars interested in the linkages between social justice and environmental change, a Steering Committee member for the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), for which I chair a Theme on Human Wellbeing and Sustainable Livelihoods, and also a postdoc at the European School of Political and Social Sciences (ESPOL) in Lille, France. 


Towards Just conservation: Linking theories and practices of justice in biodiversity conservation (ESPOL-Lille)

Indigenous Sustainable Development

Evidencing links between human wellbeing, governance and conservation effectiveness (IUCN CEESP)

Advancing equity in Brazilian protected areas (University of Aberdeen) 

REDEGN II: Rethinking Environment and Development in an Era of Global Norms: Exploring international politics of justice on carbon forestry and hydropower

ESPA-Frontiers: Land-use intensification in forest-agriculture frontier landscapes: effects on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation 

IMPACTS: Issues and Myths in Protected Area Conservation: Trade-offs and Synergies

Developing a framework and tools for enhancing equity and justice in protected area management

Empirical studies of poverty and environment: implications for pursuing interrelated SDG targets (part-time fellowship funded by the School of International Development)

Ecosystem Services, Wellbeing and Justice: Developing Tools for Research and Development Practice


Selected media and outreach

The Guardian: To reduce hunger in Africa, work with poor farmers – not against them

Policy brief: REDD+ in Uganda: access rights and equity must come first

Policy Brief: Linking Conservation and Development in a Time of Rapid Change at Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, Lao PDR 

Radio France International: Rwandan agricultural policies hurting the poorest of the poor

The Conversation: Why the ‘Green Revolution’ is making farmers poorer in Rwanda

Global Justice Now blog: Industrialising African agriculture to help the poor? Some myths exposed

Landscapes for People Food and Nature blog: In Laos, an emphasis on cash-crop agriculture entails diverse impacts

CESAD manual for practitioners – The Participatory Tool for Community Ecosystem Service Assessment and Dialogue in National Protected Areas

UEA Research webpage: Protected Areas and Poverty


I completed my PhD at UEA in October 2013, exploring changes in the wellbeing of rural populations living alongside tropical rainforests in the mountains of western Rwanda (download thesis here). Before that my career spanned quite different, though now handily complementary disciplines, including several years each as an ecologist (specialising for some time in seabirds), nature reserve warden and even economist and chartered accountant. The transition was driven by projects that took me to areas where natural resource management was intimately connected with local livelihoods: looking at fisheries in Alaska, wetland management in Belarus and in 2010 helping to monitor the Redirect PES project in Rwanda.


Room 1.69

Mobile: 0044 7960 545 370


Other Publications (relating to prior research on marine ecology)

  • Dawson N.M., Bishop M.A., Kuletz K.J. and Zuur A.F. 2015. Using ships of opportunity to assess winter habitat associations of seabirds in subarctic Alaska, Northwest Science 89:111-128  
  • Zuur A.F., Dawson N.M., Bishop M.A., Kuletz K.J. 2013. Zero inflated Common Murre density data. In: Zuur A.F., Saveliev A.A., Ieno E.N. (eds) Analysing Ecological Data - Practical Solutions When Things Get Complicated.
  • Dawson, N.M., MacLeod C.D., Smith, M. and Ratcliffe, N. 2011. Interactions with Great Skuas Stercorarius skua as a factor in the long-term decline of an Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus population, Ibis, 153:143-153.
  • Dawson N., Wilson L.J., Dean B.J., Webb A. and Reid J.B. 2009. The numbers of inshore waterbirds using Scapa Flow during the non-breeding season, and an assessment of the area’s potential for qualification as a marine SPA, JNCC Report, No. 407, Peterborough.
  • Dawson, N., Söhle, I., Wilson, L.J., Dean, B.J., Webb, A. and Reid, J.B. 2008. The numbers of inshore waterbirds using the Firth of Forth during the non-breeding season, and an assessment of the area's potential for qualification as a marine SPA. JNCC Report No. 402, Peterborough.
  • Söhle, I., Dawson N., Wilson L.J., Dean B.J., Webb A. and Reid J.B. 2009. The numbers of inshore waterbirds using the waters around Mull, Coll and Tiree during the non-breeding season, and an assessment of the area’s potential for qualification as a marine SPA, JNCC Report No. 416, Peterborough.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land