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Anke Fischer

Anke Fischer
Professor in Environmental Communication


My research combines perspectives from psychology, sociology and governance studies. It approaches environmental communication through conceptual lenses such as social representations, discourses and values, and explores intersections with legitimacy, resistance and participation, and their implications for the governance of conflict and transformation processes.


Over the years, my research has examined social representations of climate change, nature and biological diversity as built and used by different social groups, particularly also the value judgements implied, and the implications for public support for related policies. Other work has also addressed the cultural and economic role of hunting in Tanzania and Ethiopia, and the institutional arrangements that foster (or hamper) sustainable resource management, with a focus on co-management and institutional change. My more recent research has combined these different approaches by looking at the management and governance of ecosystem services, systems such as woodlands, and climate change and sustainability transformations from the perspectives of individuals as well as social groups. 

Current projects

MISTRA Environmental Communication

Governance, justice and resistance: On the way to a fossil-free welfare society (Formas)

RALENTIR: Reducing land degradation and carbon loss from Ethiopia's soil to strengthen livelihoods and resilience (UKRI)


Previous posts:

2017-2019 Science Group Leader, Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences, James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland

2011-2017 Senior Research Scientist, Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences, James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland

2010-2012 Project leader, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Arusha and Addis Ababa

2005-2011 Research Scientist, Socio-Economic Research Group, Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland

2004 Junior expert, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ)


PhD 2004, Agricultural Sciences, Göttingen University, Germany
First State Examination (MSc-equivalent) 1996, Educational Sciences for Special Needs, University of Marburg, Germany


PhD students


Lara Hensle: Communication, representation and disagreement: Investigating the interactions between (environmental) NGOs and their constituencies in late modernity. Jointly supervised with Lars Hallgren. Started 2020.

Emily Montgomerie: The creation of trust and distrust in the governance of climate change, biodiversity and wildlife management – a symbolic interactionist perspective. Jointly supervised with Lars Hallgren and Hanna Bergeå. Started 2023.

Rikard Hedling: Communicating trust and distrust, legitimacy and power in the governance of climate change, biodiversity and wildlife management – a discursive perspective. Jointly supervised with Lars Hallgren and Hanna Bergeå. Started 2023.

Nora Förell: On the constitution of knowledge and truth in environmental and sustainability communication. To start 2024.


Alison Martin: Governance and ownership of rural Scotland – implications for the rewilding agenda. University of the Highlands and Islands, jointly supervised with Melanie Smith and Rob McMorran. 2023.

Lara Tickle: Challenges facing Swedish hunting ethics. Main supervisor: Erica von Essen. 2023.

Irma Arts: Digital technologies and human-nature interactions: the users’ perspective. University of Aberdeen, jointly supervised with René van der Wal and Dominic Duckett. 2021. 

Jennifer Wardle: Resolving the conflict between demands on organic waste in rural Ethiopia – optimum solutions for food, energy and water security. University of Aberdeen, jointly supervised with Jo Smith, Lisa Avery and David Vega-Maza. 2021. 

Isla Hodgson: A conflict with wings: Understanding the narratives, relationships and hierarchies of conflicts over raptors and red grouse in Scotland. University of Aberdeen, jointly supervised with Steve Redpath and Juliette Young. 2018.

Asanterabi Lowassa: The influence of social structure and social change on illegal bushmeat hunting in western Serengeti, Tanzania. University of Dar es Salaam, jointly supervised with Abu Mvungi. 2018.  

Marie Pagès: Partnerships between professionals and amateurs in nature conservation – an examination of the motivations and discourses in the management of invasive non-native species. University of Aberdeen, jointly supervised with Xavier Lambin and René van der Wal. 2016. 

Audrey Verma: The role of digital technology in the development of human-nature relationships. University of Aberdeen, jointly supervised with René van der Wal. 2016. 

Dereje Tadesse Wakjira: Governance, institutional change and forest use in Harenna, Ethiopia. University of Aberdeen, jointly supervised with Michelle Pinard. 2013. 

Koen Arts: Wilderness restoration and animal reintroduction: Ideas, discourses and policies. University of Aberdeen, jointly supervised with René van der Wal. 2012.  

Sebastian Selge: Public and scientific discourses on biological invasions: social representations of invasive non-native species in Scotland. University of Aberdeen, jointly supervised with René van der Wal. 2011. 

Kerry A. Waylen: The implications of local views and institutions for the outcomes of community-based conservation. Imperial College London, jointly supervised with E.J. Milner-Gulland. 2010. 

Master theses

Imogen Cadwaladr-Rimmer (2024): Carbon Credit Schemes & Landownership in Scotland: An Analysis of Policy Discourses. Masters degree in Sustainable Development. Co-supervised with Annabel Pinker.

Frida Viklund Rundgren (2023): Trade-offs and goal conflicts in policy coherence for sustainable development: what’s the problem represented to be? Co-supervised with Nora Förell.

Amelie Andresen (2023): The German coal exit: An argumentative discourse analysis of storylines and discourse coalitions.  Co-supervised with Jacob Strandell.

Solomiia Pereviznyk (2022): “We may want the transition, but we don’t actually want the transition” : a discourse analysis of Swedish policies to incentivise charging infrastructure development for electric vehicles.

William Jaktén Langert (2021): Camera traps as seen by wildlife managers: an insight into Swedish wildlife managers’ views on camera traps and other technological tools and methodologies in an adaptive wildlife management framework. Masters degree in Forest Science, main supervisor: Tim Hofmeester.

Linda Varekamp (2021): Symbolic coping in Canada’s coal phaseout : applying social representations dynamics to communities in transition

Max Whitman (2020): Exploring the mechanics of power in Swedish forest management: Narratives by self-proclaimed critics and their understanding of the power dynamics transforming the Swedish forest landscape

Carina Stolz (2020): Intentional communities as drivers of societal change towards sustainability? : understanding community advocates' social representations of change.

Selected publications

List of publications by thematic areas

Peer-reviewed articles since 2013

Fischer, A., Joosse, S., Strandell, J., Söderberg, N., Johansson, K. and Boonstra, W.J. (2023): How justice shapes transition governance – a discourse analysis of Swedish policy debates.  Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.

Martin, A., Fischer, A., and McMorran R. (2023): Who decides? The governance of rewilding in Scotland ‘between the cracks’: community participation, public engagement, and partnerships. Journal of Rural Studies 98: 80-91.

Sandström, C., Ring, I., Olschewski, R., Simoncini, R., Albert, C., Acar, S., Adeishvili, M., Allard, C., Anker, Y., Arlettaz, R., Bela, G., Coscieme, L., Fischer, A., Fürst, C., Galil, B., Hynes, S., Kasymov, U.,  Marta-Pedroso, C., Mendes, A., Molau., U., Pergl, J. (2023): Mainstreaming biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people in Europe and Central Asia: insights from IPBES for the CBD Post-2020 agenda. Ecosystems and People 19:1. 

Arts, I., Duckett, D., Fischer, A., van der Wal, R. (2022): Communicating nature during lockdown – how conservation and outdoor organisations use social media to facilitate local nature experiences. People and Nature

Hague, A., Fischer, A., Byg, A., Juarez-Bourke, A., Herrett, S., Eastwood, A. (2022): Conservation in conversation: People's perspectives on a woodland with high conservation value - A qualitative study. People and Nature 4: 1190-1200.

Tickle, L., von Essen, E., Fischer A. (2022). Expanding arenas for learning hunting ethics, their grammars and dilemmas: an examination of young hunters’ enculturation into modern hunting. Sociologia Ruralis 62: 632-650.

Hodgson, I.D., Fischer, A., Redpath, S.M., Young, J.C. (2022): Fight or Flight? Understanding Different Stakeholder Responses to Conservation Conflicts. Society & Natural Resources 35(6): 628-645.

Eastwood, A., Fischer, A., Hague, A., and Brown, K (2022): A cup of tea? - The role of social relationships, networks and learning in land managers’ adaptations to policy change. Land Use Policy 113:105926.

Martin, A., Fischer, A., McMorran, R. and Smith, M. (2021): Taming rewilding – from the ecological to the social: how rewilding discourse in Scotland has come to include people. Land Use Policy 111: 105677.

Wardle, J., Fischer, A., Tesfaye, Y. and Smith, J. (2021): Seasonal variability of resources: The unexplored adversary of biogas use in rural Ethiopia. Current Research in Environmental Sustainability.

Arts, I., Fischer, A., Duckett, D., van der Wal, R. (2021): The Instagrammable outdoors – Investigating the sharing of nature experiences through visual social media. People and Nature 3: 1244-1256.

Fischer, A., Dinnie, E., Ellis, R., Eastwood, A., Carter, A. and Welsh, G. (2021): Exploring the Potential of Citizen Social Science for Environmental and Sustainability Research: Experiences of and with Community-Based Researchers. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice 6(1): 17, pp. 1–12.

Arts, I., Fischer, A., Duckett, D., van der Wal, R. (2021): Information technology and the optimisation of experience – The role of mobile devices and social media in human-nature interactions. Geoforum 122: 55-62. 

Barnaud, C., Fischer, A., Staddon, S., Blackstock, K., Moreau, C., Corbera, E., Hester, A., Mathevet, R., McKee, A., Reyes, J., Sirami, C., Eastwood, A. (2021): Is forest regeneration good for biodiversity? Exploring the social dimensions of an apparently ecological debate. Environmental Science and Policy 120: 63-72. 

Pinker, A., Argüelles, L., Fischer, A., Becker, S. (2020): Between straitjacket and possibility: Energy initiatives and the politics of regulation. Geoforum 113: 14-25. 

Dinnie, E., Fischer A. (2020): The trouble with community: How ‘sense of community’ influences participation in formal, community-led organisations and rural governance. Sociologia Ruralis 60: 243-259. 

Jarić, I., Courchamp, F., Correia, R.A., Crowley, S.L., Essl, F., Fischer, A. + 18 more authors. The role of species charisma in biological invasions (2020): Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 18: 345-353.

Joosse, S., Powell, S., Bergeå, H., Böhm, S., Calderón, C., Caselunghe, E., Fischer, A., Grubbström, A., Hallgren, L., Holmgren, S., Löf, A., Nordström Källström, H., Raitio, K., Senecah, S., Söderlund Kanarp, C., von Essen, E., Westberg, L., Westin, M. (2020): Critical, Engaged and Change-oriented Scholarship in Environmental Communication: Six Methodological Dilemmas to Think With. Environmental Communication 14:758-771.

Hodgson, I.D., Redpath, S.M., Fischer, A. and Young, J.C. (2019): Who knows best? Understanding the use of research-based knowledge in conservation conflicts. Journal of Environmental Management 231: 1065-1075.  

Pagès, M., van der Wal, R., Lambin, X., Fischer, A. (2019): Involving volunteers in rationalised nature conservation: Challenges and opportunities in the case of invasive non-native species management in Great Britain. Journal of Environmental Management: 229: 102-111. 

Fischer, A., Spekkink, W., Polzin, C., Díaz-Ayude, A., Brizi, A., Macsinga, I. (2018): Social representations of governance for change towards sustainability: perspectives of sustainability advocates. Environmental Politics 27: 621-643. 

Hodgson, I.D., Redpath, S.M., Fischer, A. and Young, J.C. (2018): Fighting talk: contested discourses of the conflict over raptors and grouse moor management in Scotland. Land Use Policy 77:332-343. 

Pagès, M., Fischer, A., Van der Wal, R. (2018): The dynamics of volunteer motivations for engaging in the management of invasive plants: Insights from a mixed-methods study on Scottish seabird islands. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 61 (5-6): 904-923. 

Craig, T.P., Fischer, A., Lorenzo-Arribas, A. (2018): Shopping versus nature? An exploratory study of everyday experiences. Frontiers in Psychology, Section Environmental Psychology: 9.

Verma, A., Van der Wal., R., Fischer, A. (2017): New technological interventions in conservation conflicts: Countering emotions and contested knowledge. Human Ecology 45: 683-695.

Fischer, A., Holstead, K., Hendrickson, C.Y., Virkkula, O., Prampolini, A. (2017): Community-led initiatives’ everyday politics for sustainability – conflicting rationalities and aspirations for change? Environment and Planning A 49: 1986-2006. 

Fischer, A., McKee, A. (2017): A question of capacities? Community resilience and empowerment between assets, abilities and relationships.  Journal of Rural Studies 54: 187-197. 

Eastwood, A., Fischer, A., Byg, A. (2017): The challenges of participatory and systemic environmental management: from aspiration to implementation. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 60: 1683-1701. 

Tadie, D., Fischer, A. (2017): Natural resource governance in lower Omo, Ethiopia – negotiation processes instead of property rights and rules? International Journal of the Commons 11: 445-463.

Verma, A., van der Wal, R., Fischer, A. (2016): Imagining wildlife: New technologies and animal censuses, maps and museums. Geoforum 75:75-86. 

Johansson, M., Dressel, S., Kvastegård, E., Fischer, A., Kaltenborn, B., Vaske, J., Sandström, C. (2016): Describing human-wildlife interaction from a European perspective. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 21: 158-168. 

Arts, K.; Fischer, A.; Van der Wal, R. (2016): Boundaries of the wolf and the wild: a theoretical examination of the relationship between rewilding and animal reintroduction. Restoration Ecology 24:27-34.  

Fischer, A., Eastwood, A. (2016): Coproduction of ecosystem services as human-nature interactions – an analytical framework. Land Use Policy 52: 41-50.  

Van der Wal, R., Fischer, A., Selge, S., Larson, B. (2015): Neither the public nor experts judge species primarily on their origins. Environmental Conservation 42: 349-355.  

Dinnie, E., Fischer, A., Huband, S. (2015): Discursive claims to knowledge: The challenge of delivering public policy objectives through new environmental governance arrangements for land and game management in Scotland. Journal of Rural Studies 37:1-9.  

Van der Wal, R., Fischer, A., Selge, S., Larson, B. (2015): Neither the public nor experts judge species primarily on their origins. Environmental Conservation 42: 349-355.  

Dinnie, E., Fischer, A., Huband, S. (2015): Discursive claims to knowledge: The challenge of delivering public policy objectives through new environmental governance arrangements for land and game management in Scotland. Journal of Rural Studies 37:1-9.  

Verma, A., van der Wal, R., Fischer, A. (2015): Microscope and Spectacle: On the complexities of using new visual technologies to communicate about animal conservation. Ambio 44: S648-660. 

Fischer, A., Selge, S., Larson, B., Van der Wal, R. (2014): The public and professionals reason similarly about the management of non-native invasive species: A quantitative investigation of the relationship between beliefs and attitudes. PLOS ONE 9(8): e105495.

Fischer, A., Wakjira, D. T, T. W., Yitbarek, Ashenafi, Z. T. (2014): On the interplay of actors in the co-management of natural resources - a dynamic perspective. World Development 64: 158–168. 

Arts, K., Fischer, A., Van der Wal, R. (2014): Political decision-making, governance shifts and Scottish animal reintroductions: are democratic principles at stake? Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 57: 612-628. 

Fischer, A., Sandström, C., Delibes-Mateos, M., Arroyo, B., Tadie, D., Randall, D., Hailu, F., Lowassa, A., Msuha, M., Kereži, V., Reljić, S., Linnell, J., Majić Skrbinšek, A. (2013): On the multifunctionality of hunting – an institutional analysis of eight cases from Europe and Africa. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 56: 531-552. 

Fischer, A., Kereži, V., Arroyo, B., Delibes-Mateos, M., Tadie, D., Lowassa, A., Krange, O., Skogen, K. (2013): (De)legitimising hunting – discourses over the morality of hunting in Europe and eastern Africa. Land Use Policy 32: 261-270.

Waylen, K.A., Gowan, P., Fischer, A., Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2013): Deconstructing community for conservation: Why simple assumptions are not sufficient. Human Ecology 41: 575-585. 

Yitbarek T.W., Tadie, D., Timer, G., Fischer, A. (2013): Evaluating governance processes in the sharing of revenues from wildlife tourism and hunting in Ethiopia. Environmental Conservation 40: 253-265. 

Wakjira, D.T., Fischer, A., Pinard, M. (2013): Governance change and institutional adaptation: A case study from Harenna forest, Ethiopia. Environmental Management 51:912–925. 

Tadie, D., Fischer, A.  (2013): Hunting, social structure and human-nature relationships in lower Omo, Ethiopia: people and wildlife at a crossroads. Human Ecology 41:447–457.


Environmental governance for biodiversity and nature's contributions to people: synergies and trade-offs: Chapter 6.4.2. In: Rounsevell, M., Fischer, M., Torre-Marin Rando, A. & Mader, A. (eds.), Regional Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Europe and Central Asia. Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Bonn: Germany. Ring, I.; Sandström, C.; Acar, S.; Adeishvili, M.; Albert, C.; Allard, C.; Anker, Y.; Arlettaz, R.; Bela, G.; ten Brink, B.; Coscieme, L.; Fischer, A.; Fürst, C.; Galil, B.; Hynes, S.; Kasymov, U.; Marta-Pedroso, C.; Mendes, A.; Molau, U.; Olschewski, R.; Pergl, J.; Simoncini, R.; Blackstock, K.L. (2018)


What can we learn from the Corona crisis for the governance of sustainability transformations?

Concern for natural heritage – an effective way to raise concern about climate change?


Professor at the Department of Urban and Rural Development; Division of Environmental Communication
Telephone: +4618673556
Postal address:
Inst för stad och land, Box 7012
Visiting address: Ulls väg 27, Uppsala