Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesCentre for Environmental Policy

Senior Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 9339caroline.howe




205Weeks BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Publication Type

18 results found

Corbera E, Maestre-Andres S, Calvet-Mir L, Brockington D, Howe C, Adams WMet al., 2021, Biases in the production of knowledge on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation, Oryx: journal of fauna and flora international, Vol: 55, Pages: 868-877, ISSN: 0030-6053

Research into the relationship between ecosystem services and human well-being, including poverty alleviation, has blossomed. However, little is known about who has produced this knowledge, what collaborative patterns and institutional and funding conditions have underpinned it, or what implications these matters may have. To investigate the potential implications of such production for conservation science and practice, we address this by developing a social network analysis of the most prolific writers in the production of knowledge about ecosystem services and poverty alleviation. We show that 70% of these authors are men, most are trained in either the biological sciences or economics and almost none in the humanities. Eighty per cent of authors obtained their PhD from universities in the EU or the USA, and they are currently employed in these regions. The co-authorship network is strongly collaborative, without dominant authors, and with the top 30 most cited scholars being based in the USA and co-authoring frequently. These findings suggest, firstly, that the production of knowledge on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation research has the same geographical and gender biases that characterize knowledge production in other scientific areas and, secondly, that there is an expertise bias that also characterizes other environmental matters. This is despite the fact that the research field of ecosystem services and poverty alleviation, by its nature, requires a multidisciplinary lens. This could be overcome through promoting more extensive collaboration and knowledge co-production.

Journal article

Hunter SB, zu Ermgassen SOSE, Downey H, Griffiths RA, Howe Cet al., 2021, Evidence shortfalls in the recommendations and guidance underpinning ecological mitigation for infrastructure developments, Ecological Solutions and Evidence, Vol: 2, ISSN: 2688-8319

In the United Kingdom and European Union, legal protection of species from the impacts of infrastructure development depends upon a number of ecological mitigation and compensation (EMC) measures to moderate the conflict between development and conservation. However, the scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness has not yet been comprehensively assessed.This study compiled the measures used in practice, identified and explored the guidance that informed them and, using the Conservation Evidence database, evaluated the empirical evidence for their effectiveness.In a sample of 50 U.K. housing applications, we identified the recommendation of 446 measures in total, comprising 65 different mitigation measures relating to eight taxa. Although most (56%) measures were justified by citing published guidance, exploration of the literature underpinning this guidance revealed that empirical evaluations of EMC measure effectiveness accounted for less than 10% of referenced texts. Citation network analysis also identified circular referencing across bat, amphibian and reptile EMC guidance. Comparison with Conservation Evidence synopses showed that over half of measures recommended in ecological reports had not been empirically evaluated, with only 13 measures assessed as beneficial.As such, most EMC measures recommended in practice are not evidence based. The limited reference to empirical evidence in published guidance, as well as the circular referencing, suggests potential ‘evidence complacency’, in which evidence is not sought to inform recommendations. In addition, limited evidence availability indicates a thematic gap between conservation research and mitigation practice. More broadly, absence of evidence on the effectiveness of EMC measures calls into question the ability of current practice to compensate for the impact of development on protected species, thus highlighting the need to strengthen requirements for impact avoidance. Given the recent po

Journal article

Downey H, Amano T, Cadotte M, Cook CN, Cooke SJ, Haddaway NR, Jones JPG, Littlewood N, Walsh JC, Abrahams MI, Adum G, Akasaka M, Alves JA, Antwis RE, Arellano EC, Axmacher J, Barclay H, Batty L, BenítezLópez A, Bennett JR, Berg MJ, Bertolino S, Biggs D, Bolam FC, Bray T, Brook BW, Bull JW, Burivalova Z, Cabeza M, Chauvenet ALM, Christie AP, Cole L, Cotton AJ, Cotton S, Cousins SAO, Craven D, Cresswell W, Cusack JJ, Dalrymple SE, Davies ZG, Diaz A, Dodd JA, Felton A, Fleishman E, Gardner CJ, Garside R, Ghoddousi A, Gilroy JJ, Gill DA, Gill JA, Glew L, Grainger MJ, Grass AA, Greshon S, Gundry J, Hart T, Hopkins CR, Howe C, Johnson A, Jones KW, Jordan NR, Kadoya T, Kerhoas D, Koricheva J, Lee TM, Lengyel S, Livingstone SW, Lyons A, McCabe G, Millett J, Strevens CM, Moolna A, Mossman HL, Mukherjee N, MuñozSáez A, Negrões N, Norfolk O, Osawa T, Papworth S, Park KJ, Pellet J, Phillott AD, Plotnik JM, Priatna D, Ramos AG, Randall N, Richards RM, Ritchie EG, Roberts DL, Rocha R, Rodríguez JP, Sanderson R, Sasaki T, Savilaakso S, Sayer C, Sekercioglu C, Senzaki M, Smith G, Smith RJ, Soga M, Soulsbury CD, Steer MD, Stewart G, Strange EF, Suggitt AJ, Thompson RRJ, Thompson S, Thornhill I, Trevelyan RJ, Usieta HO, Venter O, Webber AD, White RL, Whittingham MJ, Wilby A, Yarnell RW, ZamoraGutierrez V, Sutherland WJet al., 2021, Training future generations to deliver evidence‐based conservation and ecosystem management, Ecological Solutions and Evidence, Vol: 2, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 2688-8319

1. To be effective, the next generation of conservation practitioners and managers need to be critical thinkers with a deep understanding of how to make evidence-based decisions and of the value of evidence synthesis.2. If, as educators, we do not make these priorities a core part of what we teach, we are failing to prepare our students to make an effective contribution to conservation practice.3. To help overcome this problem we have created open access online teaching materials in multiple languages that are stored in Applied Ecology Resources. So far, 117 educators from 23 countries have acknowledged the importance of this and are already teaching or about to teach skills in appraising or using evidence in conservation decision-making. This includes 145 undergraduate, postgraduate or professional development courses.4. We call for wider teaching of the tools and skills that facilitate evidence-based conservation and also suggest that providing online teaching materials in multiple languages could be beneficial for improving global understanding of other subject areas.

Journal article

Cruz-Piedrahita C, Howe C, de Nazelle A, 2020, Public health benefits from urban horticulture in the global north: A scoping review and framework, Global Transitions, Vol: 2, Pages: 246-256, ISSN: 2589-7918

Urban agriculture has increased rapidly in the Global North in recent decades. However, because most research has focused on developing countries, we still lack systematic information on the benefits, barriers, costs and risks of the practice of food production in cities of the Global North. Urban horticulture (UH) is the agriculture of plants for food consumption, materials production, or decoration, developed inside city boundaries. UH has recently been proposed as a tool to improve population health and urban biodiversity. This study takes a systems approach to reviewing the literature on the impacts of UH on public health, the environment and health behaviours, using the ecosystem services (ES) concept as lens. Using a scoping review methodology, 138 papers met the search criteria and these studies were used to develop a conceptual framework summarizing and synthesing the direct and indirect pathways in which urban horticulture and public health are interconnected. The resulting “eco”systems-based framework analyses and visualises the relationship between UH and public health and provides evidence for relationships (both positive and negative) between, and pathways linking, urban horticulture and benefits for mental health, physical activity, diet, and socialisation. This study demonstrates that UH can help to improve public health in cities of the Global North and makes the case for UH as a solution to tackling multiple health and societal challenges that arise in urban populations. We provide a framework to enable local authorities and urban stakeholders to maximise the benefits from, and reduce the risks related to, the practice of UH at a systems level.

Journal article

Howe C, Corbera E, Vira B, Brockington D, Adams WMet al., 2020, Distinct positions underpin ecosystem services for poverty alleviation, Oryx, Vol: 54, Pages: 375-382, ISSN: 0030-6053

As the concept of ecosystem services is applied more widely in conservation, its users will encounter the issue of poverty alleviation. Policy initiatives involving ecosystem services are often marked by their use of win-win narratives that conceal the trade-offs they must entail. Modelling this paper on an earlier essay about conservation and poverty, we explore the different views that underlie apparent agreement. We identify five positions that reflect different mixes of concern for ecosystem condition, poverty and economic growth, and we suggest that acknowledging these helps to uncover the subjacent goals of policy interventions and the trade-offs they involve in practice. Recognizing their existence and foundations can ultimately support the emergence of more legitimate and robust policies.

Journal article

Pascual U, Howe C, 2018, Seeing the wood for the trees: exploring the evolution of frameworks of ecosystem services for human wellbeing, Ecosystem services and poverty alleviation: trade-offs and governance, Editors: Schreckenberg, Mace, Poudyal, Pages: 3-21, ISBN: 9780429016295

Ecosystem service frameworks connect with different societal goals and priorities regarding ecosystem management and development planning, and thus reflect the different epistemic communities from which they arise. Since the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), ecosystem service framing has undergone a significant evolution and this evolution has, in turn, continued to reshape the epistemic communities and their take on policy instruments, including for example payments for ecosystem services. This chapter explores the development of ecosystem services framings over the last decade, focusing on how the ecosystem service frameworks, such as the UN-led Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), the UK-led Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), have significantly influenced how we conceptualise and use the ecosystem service approach. Through an exploration of the evolution of ecosystem service and well-being framings, the chapter highlights that there has been a substantial shift towards seeing ecosystem services through a richer lens, departing from a mostly supply (biophysical) perspective to a more balanced social-ecological perspective, including the issues of equity and justice in ecosystem governance, and a pluralistic conceptualisation of values.

Book chapter

Crees JJ, Collins AC, Stephenson PJ, Meredith HM, Young RP, Howe C, Price MR, Turvey STet al., 2016, A comparative approach to assess drivers of success in mammalian conservation recovery programs, Conservation Biology, Vol: 30, Pages: 694-705, ISSN: 0888-8892

The outcomes of species recovery programs have been mixed; high-profile population recoveries contrast with species-level extinctions. Each conservation intervention has its own challenges, but to inform more effective management it is imperative to assess whether correlates of wider recovery program success or failure can be identified. To contribute to evidence-based improvement of future conservation strategies, we conducted a global quantitative analysis of 48 mammalian recovery programs. We reviewed available scientific literature and conducted semistructured interviews with conservation professionals involved in different recovery programs to investigate ecological, management, and political factors associated with population recoveries or declines. Identifying and removing threats was significantly associated with increasing population trend and decreasing conservation dependence, emphasizing that populations are likely to continue to be compromised in the absence of effective threat mitigation and supporting the need for threat monitoring and adaptive management in response to new and potential threats. Lack of habitat and small population size were cited as limiting factors in 56% and 42% of recovery programs, respectively, and both were statistically associated with increased longer term dependence on conservation intervention, demonstrating the importance of increasing population numbers quickly and restoring and protecting habitat. Poor stakeholder coordination and management were also regularly cited by respondents as key weaknesses in recovery programs, indicating the importance of effective leadership and shared goals and management plans. Project outcomes were not influenced by biological or ecological variables such as body mass or habitat, which suggests that these insights into correlates of conservation success and failure are likely to be generalizable across mammals.

Journal article

Milner-Gulland EJ, Sainsbury K, Burgess N, Howe C, Sabuni F, Puis E, Killenga Ret al., 2015, Exploring stakeholder perceptions of conservation outcomes from alternative income generating activities in Tanzanian villages adjacent to Eastern Arc mountain forests., Biological Conservation, Vol: 191, Pages: 20-28, ISSN: 0006-3207

Journal article

Suich H, Howe C, Mace G, 2015, Ecosystem services and poverty alleviation: A review of the empirical links, Ecosystem Services, Vol: 12, Pages: 137-147, ISSN: 2212-0416

We present the results of a review of the empirical evidence and of the state of knowledge regarding the mechanisms linking ecosystem services and poverty alleviation. The review was undertaken to determine the state of current knowledge about the scale and nature of these linkages, and focus the future research agenda. Research has, to date, focussed largely on provisioning services, and on just two poverty dimensions concerning income and assets, and food security and nutrition. While many papers describe links between ecosystem services and dimensions of poverty, few provide sufficient context to enable a thorough understanding of the poverty alleviation impacts (positive or negative), if any. These papers contribute to the accumulating evidence that ecosystem services support well-being, and perhaps prevent people becoming poorer, but provide little evidence of their contribution to poverty alleviation, let alone poverty elimination. A considerable gap remains in understanding the links between ecosystem services and poverty, how change occurs, and how pathways out of poverty may be achieved based on the sustainable utilisation of ecosystem services.

Journal article

Howe C, Suich H, Vira B, Mace GMet al., 2014, Creating win-wins from trade-offs? Ecosystem services for human well-being: A meta-analysis of ecosystem service trade-offs and synergies in the real world, Global Environmental Change, Vol: 28, Pages: 263-275, ISSN: 0959-3780

Ecosystem services can provide a wide range of benefits for human well-being, including provisioning, regulating and cultural services and benefitting both private and public interests in different sectors of society. Biophysical, economic and social factors all make it unlikely that multiple needs will be met simultaneously without deliberate efforts, yet while there is still much interest in developing win-win outcomes there is little understanding of what is required for them to be achieved. We analysed outcomes in a wide range of case studies where ecosystem services had been used for human well-being. Using systematic mapping of the literature from 2000 to 2013, we identified 1324 potentially relevant reports, 92 of which were selected for the review, creating a database of 231 actual or potential recorded trade-offs and synergies. The analysis of these case studies highlighted significant gaps in the literature, including: a limited geographic distribution of case studies, a focus on provisioning as opposed to non-provisioning services and a lack of studies exploring the link between ecosystem service trade-offs or synergies and the ultimate impact on human well-being. Trade-offs are recorded almost three times as often as synergies and the analysis indicates that there are three significant indicators that a trade-off will occur: at least one of the stakeholders having a private interest in the natural resources available, the involvement of provisioning ecosystem services and at least one of the stakeholders acting at the local scale. There is not, however, a generalisable context for a win-win, indicating that these trade-off indicators, although highlighting where a trade-off may occur do not indicate that it is inevitable. Taking account of why trade-offs occur (e.g. from failures in management or a lack of accounting for all stakeholders) is more likely to create win-win situations than planning for a win-win from the outset. Consequently, taking a trade

Journal article

Andradi-Brown DA, Howe C, Mace GM, Knight ATet al., 2013, Do mangrove forest restoration or rehabilitation activities return biodiversity to pre-impact levels?, Environmental Evidence, Vol: 2, ISSN: 2047-2382

BackgroundMangrove forest restoration and rehabilitation programs are increasingly undertaken to re-establish ecosystem services in the context of community-based biodiversity conservation. Restoration is returning a habitat to the most natural condition, whereas rehabilitation often focuses on optimising ecosystem services alongside biodiversity. With many different restoration and rehabilitation objectives and techniques existing, it is difficult to assess the general effectiveness of restoration and rehabilitation on biodiversity and ecosystem services. This systematic review protocol presents a methodology that will be used to assess the impacts of mangrove forest restoration and rehabilitation on biodiversity and provisioning ecosystem services in a global context.MethodsThis review will assess studies that have undertaken biodiversity surveys of restored and rehabilitated mangrove forests by comparing them against suitable mature reference mangrove forests within the same region, or surveys prior to degradation of the forest. This review will investigate how the age and initial tree diversity of a restoration or rehabilitation activities determine the effectiveness of these initiatives. Taxa of commercial value to local communities will be assessed to identify whether rehabilitation for optimal ecosystem service provision is likely to conflict with the full restoration of mangrove forests.

Journal article

Howe C, Suich H, van Gardingen P, Rahman A, Mace GMet al., 2013, Elucidating the pathways between climate change, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Vol: 5, Pages: 102-107, ISSN: 1877-3435

A rapid review of the current literature on the links between climate change, ecosystem services (ES) and poverty alleviation has identified 41 papers. Of these, 19 were considered relevant as they specifically discussed the linkages between ES and poverty and the influence of climate change on that relationship. The papers reviewed focused on a limited number of ES and rarely considered multiple dimensions of poverty or the full range of climate change effects. The authors collectively recognise a complex network of relationships between ES and poverty, further complicated by the potential impacts of climate change. There is an urgent need for empirical research and interdisciplinarity, including developing a commonly understood set of definitions, in order to begin to elucidate pathways that will significantly affect the abilities of people to adapt to our rapidly changing climate.

Journal article

Damerell P, Howe C, Milner-Gulland EJ, 2013, Child-orientated environmental education influences adult knowledge and household behaviour, Environmental Research Letters, Vol: 8, Pages: 1-7, ISSN: 1748-9326

Environmental education is frequently undertaken as a conservation intervention designed to change the attitudes and behaviour of recipients. Much conservation education is aimed at children, with the rationale that children influence the attitudes of their parents, who will consequently change their behaviour. Empirical evidence to substantiate this suggestion is very limited, however. For the first time, we use a controlled trial to assess the influence of wetland-related environmental education on the knowledge of children and their parents and household behaviour. We demonstrate adults exhibiting greater knowledge of wetlands and improved reported household water management behaviour when their child has received wetland-based education at Seychelles wildlife clubs. We distinguish between 'folk' knowledge of wetland environments and knowledge obtained from formal education, with intergenerational transmission of each depending on different factors. Our study provides the first strong support for the suggestion that environmental education can be transferred between generations and indirectly induce targeted behavioural changes.

Journal article

Howe C, Milner-Gulland EJ, 2013, Response to Cunningham, S. and King, L. (2013), Animal Conservation, Vol: 16, Pages: 139-140

Journal article

Howe C, Milner-Gulland EJ, 2012, The view from the office is not all bad: Conservation evaluation as a ’sexy’ research goal, Animal Conservation, Vol: 15, Pages: 231-232, ISSN: 1367-9430

Journal article

Howe C, Obgenova O, Milner-Gulland EJ, 2012, Evaluating the effectiveness of a public awareness campaign as a conservation intervention: The saiga antelope Saiga tatarica in Kalmykia, Russia, ORYX, Vol: 46, Pages: 269-277

Journal article

Howe C, Milner-Gulland EJ, 2012, Evaluating indices of conservation success: A comparative analysis of outcome- and output-based indices, Animal Conservation, Vol: 15, Pages: 217-226, ISSN: 1367-9430

Conservation funders require methods by which to evaluate the relative success of projects within their portfolios. One approach is to develop robust indices of success that are consistent between projects and evaluators. We used three contrasting indices to evaluate factors contributing to success of projects funded by the UK Government's Darwin Initiative. The indices were: Darwin Outputs (related to the Darwin Initiative's own method of evaluating the success of the projects it supports), Impact Assessment (based on the method developed by Mace et al. for evaluating the success of projects supported by zoos) and a Ranked Outcomes (a qualitatively ranked outcome index). We evaluated the internal consistency of the indices by comparing the assessments of multiple independent scorers. We assessed their robustness by checking for differences between indices and assessors in the success level assigned to a given project. We then used mixed effects models to analyse the factors contributing to project success, as expressed by each index, and compared the factors highlighted as important by each index. Although there were systematic differences between scorers, relative rankings between scorers were consistent. The indices were in fair agreement as to project success ranks, although the success ranks assigned by subjective ranked outcome- and output-based indices were more consistent between assessors than the impact assessment index. Higher levels of funding led to projects receiving consistently higher success scores. Other variables varied in their importance between indices, although metrics of education were consistently important. This study shows that it is possible to develop robust outcome-based indices of conservation success for comparison of projects within a funder's portfolio, although the nuances picked up by different indices suggest a need for multiple indices to capture different facets of success. We also highlight the need for thorough testing

Journal article

Howe C, Medzhidov R, Milner-Gulland EJ, 2011, Evaluating the relative effectiveness of alternative conservation interventions in influencing stated behavioural intentions: The saiga antelope in Kalmykia (Russia), Environmental Conservation, Vol: 38, Pages: 37-44

Journal article

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