We are delighted to announce this year’s recipients of our Research Fund, focusing on the themes of critical and creative approaches to landscape justice and rapid environmental change. These are two of our research priorities.

The decision for the panel gets more difficult by the year, with an increasing number of high quality, diverse and worthy projects. We would like to thank each and every applicant for submitting their project, and for their interest in the Fund.

The five projects we will support are (in alphabetical order of recipient surname):

Supporting urban poor women leadership to respond to lake and wetlands’ in-filling practices and urban dispossession in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Recipient: Johanna Brugman Alvarez
Project location: Cambodia

Cambodia, a country with a ‘disjointed’ form of governance in which state-private alliances bypass any form of urban legislation, struggles in governing its resources in an equitable way.

Since 2003, over 60% of Phnom Penh’s lakes and more than 40% of wetlands have been in-filled by developers, leading to flooding, pollution and loss of fishing breeding grounds. Also, forced evictions of urban poor families have occurred leading to a loss of livelihoods, connections to place, and rights to land and water.

Urban poor communities, many led by women, have organized to respond to the increasing threats of dispossession caused by in-filling practices. These citizenship practices are not fully documented or understood, and face a risk of not being properly supported by civil society organizations and funding agencies.

Using a gender lens, this research aims to produce knowledge on the meaning and responses of urban poor women to lake and wetlands’ in-filling practices in Phnom Penh, and use this knowledge to better inform how support is given to women to lead community-based responses to these particular forms of dispossession.

Forest fire and indigenous landscape identity

Recipient: Andrew Butler
Project location: Sweden

Fire causes dramatic and abrupt change reaching beyond the visible, physical and temporal location of the fire. We propose landscape perspective as a solid starting point for untangling the multiple and complex consequences that forest fire generates. We view the boreal forest not as one landscape, but many, with important distinctions drawn between Sami and commercial forest landscapes.

What happens to individuals and communities when landscapes abruptly change? How can we handle the consequences and address these events to support social and environmental justice? We explore the impacts of forest fires from Sami landscape perspective(s).

With the objective to reveal differences and thus lay the ground for a pluralistic understanding of landscapes, we begin by developing understanding of what distinguishes Sami boreal landscape identities from the dominant discourse, and of important nuances that exist within Sami landscape identities.

Ultimately the aim is to investigate the consequences of forest fires from Sami landscape perspectives. As a step for exploring if and how, the transformative contribute in decolonizing the Swedish boreal forest.

Evaluating extended urban infrastructure landscapes under China’s Belt and Road initiative

Recipient: Creighton Connolly
Project location: Malaysia

This research will examine how China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is transforming urban landscapes in developing regions of Asia through the financing of infrastructure projects. It uses a case study of the Melaka Gateway project: a series of artificial islands being reclaimed near the city of Melaka, Malaysia. This project will house cruise ship infrastructure, leisure facilities and a deep sea port, aiming to (re)establish the city as a key regional transport hub.

The proposed research investigates three key objectives:

In sum, this research aims to assess the long-term socio-cultural and ecological injustices posed by BRI projects in developing regions, and how they might be mitigated through new innovations in policy and grassroots governance approaches.

Landscape Stories: an investigation of organisations’ and diverse audiences’ narratives of the countryside to advance landscape justice

Recipient: Laura Hodsdon
Project location: UK

This Falmouth University and National Trust (NT) partnership uses Wembury in South-East Devon as a test-bed to surface stories (real or imagined) about the landscape from organisations and individuals from diverse audiences, to create an impactful action plan for the NT to ensure ‘everyone is welcome’, contribute to wellbeing, and connect people to nature.

Using an inductive approach with a wide demographic range of participants we will elicit multiple narratives of place, which may relate to marginalised identities, experiences of being in the landscape, rapid environmental change in this coastal area, or other narratives hegemonic or marginalised.

By exploring discursive strategies and embodied experiences of rural landscapes, we ask: How is the landscape socio-spatially constructed by diverse audiences? How are narratives of place discursively constructed, how do they differ amongst groups, and how might we use this understanding to engage a wider demographic? (How) do race, class, and gender, and power and privilege, manifest themselves? What does the evident rapid environmental change at the coastline mean to local communities and visitors, and how does this vary across groups? And do the NT’s materials and the environment it creates ensure that ‘Everyone is welcome’?

What is wilderness? Landscapes of change

Recipient: Sarah Pohlschneider
Project location: UK

Over the last decade, Scottish landscapes have been increasingly exposed to extreme weather events, exacerbating the risk of catastrophic disturbances e.g. wildfires and flooding. Rapid environmental change affects human and non-human communities and requires urgent responses informed by and under consideration of a wide range of stakeholders.

‘What is Wilderness? Landscapes of change’, aims to surface different stakeholder evidence and identify mechanisms that can help navigate local tensions and intergenerational differences in perspectives relating to historical, socio-ecological and cultural landscapes.

The community based creative and participatory research will be undertaken in the landscapes of an estate in the Cairngorms. The objectives are to:

Congratulations to you all! In the near future, we will share more information about each project individually, so keep an eye on our website and social media.