McGill Alert / Alerte de McGill

Updated: Mon, 07/15/2024 - 16:07

Gradual reopening continues on downtown campus. See Campus Public Safety website for details.

La réouverture graduelle du campus du centre-ville se poursuit. Complément d'information : Direction de la protection et de la prévention.

Brian Robinson

Brian Robinson

Livelihoods, environment and development

Associate Professor in the Department of Geography

Office: Burnside Hall Room 432
Phone: 514-398-3453
Fax: 514-398-7437

brian.e.robinson [at] (E-mail)

Academic background

  • PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Research Affiliate, Chinese Center for Eco-Environmental Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Global Environmental Research Fellow, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota

Research interests

I look at how people meet their needs through use of ecosystems and resources, and the role this plays in development in poorer regions of the world. My research interests began as an early desire to experience other cultures and ways of living, and wanting a better understanding of how people are tied to the environment. Just after college I joined the US Peace Corps and moved to China, and since then have been working on these kinds of development issues. I think about questions like:

  • Why do communities create management institutions? How do these impact resource use and livelihoods?
  • How do people use ecosystems to support their livelihoods? What parts of the landscape are most critical for that support?
  • How does household behavior interact with policy intentions, for instance in payment for ecosystem services programs?

My research methods draw from ecology, environmental and development economics, development geography, and geographic information sciences. Using an institutional and economic lens, I try to measure and demonstrate the interactions between livelihoods, the natural environment and the institutions that govern them.

Current projects

  • The direct impact of ecosystem services on human well-being
  • Spatial modeling of non-timber forest product harvesting
  • Grasshoppers and grazing decisions: ecological-economic telecoupling in rangeland management

Some recent publications


Zheng H, Robinson BE, Liang Y, et al. (2013) Benefits, costs, and livelihood implications of a regional payment for ecosystem service program. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1312324110

Robinson BE, Holland MB, Naughton-Treves L (in press) Does Secure Land Tenure Save Forests? A meta-analysis of the relationship between land tenure and tropical deforestation. Global Environmental Change.

Holland MB, De Koning F, Morales M, Naughton-Treves L, Robinson BE, Suárez L (in press) Complex Tenure and Deforestation: Implications for Conservation Incentives in the Ecuadorian Amazon. World Development.

Robinson BE, Provencher W, Lewis DJ (2013) Managing wild resources: resource rent, governance and resource endowments for a class of non-timber forest products. World Development. 48: 120-132.

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