Oliver Coomes

Prof. Oliver Coomes

Development Geography

Professor in the Department of Geography

Office: Burnside Hall, room 415
Tel.: (514) 398-4943
Fax.: (514) 398-7437
oliver.coomes [at] mcgill.ca (E-mail)


Academic background

  • Ph.D. Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1992)

  • Editor-in-Chief, World Development (2002-2012)

  • Associate Editor, Economic Botany (2009-present)

Research interests

I work on issues related to environment and development in tropical forests and forest communities of Latin America, including peasant livelihoods, forest resource use, the forest-poverty nexus, land cover change, adaptation to environmental change, and agrobiodiversity.


Current projects

I have four research projects currently underway - in the Peruvian Amazon - on:

  • Rain forest community location - determinants and implications

  • Historical land use, poverty traps and forest cover

  • Peasant responses to environmental change

  • Agricultural diversity and seed networks

Selected Publications

Coomes, O.T., Y. Takasaki and J. Rhemtulla. 2011. "Land-use poverty traps identified in shifting cultivation systems shape long-term tropical forest cover". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108(34): 13925-13930.

Coomes, O.T., Y. Takasaki, C. Abizaid and B.L. Barham 2010. "Flood plain fisheries as natural insurance for the rural poor in tropical forest environments: evidence from Amazonia" Fisheries Management and Ecology 17(6): 513-521.

Coomes, O.T. 2010. "Of stakes, stems and cuttings: the importance of local seed systems in traditional Amazonian societies" The Professional Geographer 62(3): 323-334.