Dr. Tahia Devisscher has experience working at the interface of environment and development in different forest landscapes around the world. Over the past decade, Tahia has worked in more than 20 countries with more than 50 partners supporting global to local strategies to anticipate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Since 2012, Tahia has specialized in ecosystem-based adaptation and nature-based solutions to build social and ecological resilience. Her research projects and training activities have engaged different sectors, including agencies from the government, the United Nations, and civil society. In her projects, Tahia integrates different disciplines and uses mixed methods from quantitative modeling to participatory assessment and qualitative scenario visioning.
Tahia has worked with various international organizations including the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She has been lead author of two chapters of the Global Environment Outlook 5 (GEO-5), science writer for the UNEP Year Book 2011 and 2009, and UNDP Bolivia Human Development Report 2008.
Ph.D., Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK, 2016
M.Sc. (Distinction), Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Central European University, Hungary/ Lund University, Sweden/ University of Manchester, UK / University of Aegean, Greece, 2007
B.Sc. (Honors), Double Major in Socio-economic Development and Environmental Science, Zamorano University, Honduras, 2004
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of British Columbia, Canada. Joint appointment at the Urban Forestry Research In Action (UFORIA) lab and the Forest Resources and Environmental Services Hub (FRESH). Research and project management responsibilities. Jan 2017 –ongoing
Research Fellow (Research Associate since April 2016), Stockholm Environment Institute Oxford Centre, UK. Focus on climate change adaptation in rural and urban landscapes. Coordination and research in multi-year projects funded by the EC, NERC/ESRC/DFID, ADB, WWF, UNEP, SIDA, DANIDA, SDC. Support developing the weADAPT.org platform. Jun 2008 –ongoing
United Nations Environment Programme, Kenya. Lead Author of the Land Chapter and the Challenges within the Earth System Chapter of the Global Environment Outlook 5 (GEO-5) 2012. Science Writer for the Forest Biodiversity Chapter of the UNEP Year Book 2011. Lead Author of the Harmful Substances and Hazardous Waste Chapter in the UNEP Year Book 2009. Contributing Author of the Ecosystem Management Chapter in the UNEP Year Book 2009. Aug 2008 –Dec 2010
Research Associate, United Nations Development Programme, Bolivia for the UNDP Bolivia Human Development Report 2008. Nov 2007 –May 2008
Research Consultant, World Bank – Zamorano University, Honduras. Research for the Country Environmental Analysis of Honduras carried out for the World Bank by the Environment and Development School at Zamorano University. Coordination of national experts’ inputs and research for the agriculture sector. Aug 2007 –Sep 2007
Research Associate, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA, School of Renewable Natural Resources. Assisted fieldwork and analysis in two research projects assessing the natural regeneration of swamp forests in the Mississippi delta and measuring invasive species in the oak forests of southern Louisiana. May 2005 –Sep 2005
SUCCESSFUL RESEARCH GRANTS
- Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship (CAD 140K) by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). PI. 2018
- Postdoctoral Fellowship (CAD 90K) by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). PI. 2018
- Grant (EUR 1.9M) by the European Commission under its 7th Framework Programme FP7-ENV-2011 for the EcoAdapt project. Co-PI. 2011
- Grant (USD 5M) by the African Development Bank PACEBCo programme for the COBAM project. Co-PI. 2010
- Grant (EUR 2.8M) by the European Commission and the Austrian Development Agency for the C3D+ project. Co-PI. 2009
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
- Santander Academic Travel Award supporting Ph.D. fieldwork and work at the National Institute for Space Research in Brazil. 2014
- Osmaston Scholarship awarded for 3 years of the Ph.D. research at St Cross College, Oxford University. 2011
- Development Cooperation Prize by the Belgian Government awarded for the M.Sc. thesis research conducted in Borneo, Malaysia. 2008
- European Union’s Erasmus Mundus Scholarship covering the 2-year M.Sc. program MESPOM. 2005
RECENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
A general social-ecological systems framework for ecosystem-based adaptation in forestry. PI, Postdoctoral Fellowship at the UFORIA lab, developing an analytical framework to assess social and ecological processes driving ecosystem-based adaptation planning in urban forestry. 2017-2018.
Time for change: the role of community forests in revolutionizing BC forestry. PI, Postdoctoral Fellowship at the FRESH lab, provides evidence of enhanced forest management practices that can help build resilience of forests and people in and around communities of British Columbia. 2017 – 2018
Urban forestry in Latin America: opportunities and challenges from research to practice. Co-PI, Postdoctoral Fellowship at the UFORIA lab, provides a baseline understanding of urban forestry and its potential in Latin America. 2018 – 2019
Building green and resilient cities: a socio-ecological approach to urban forestry and climate change adaptation. PI, Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, studies the role of forests in and around cities in building urban resilience with focus on ecosystem services and forest-nature connection along an urbanization gradient. 2018 – 2020
Projects under review:
The forest in the city: enhancing the contribution of sustainable urban forests to healthy and resilient cities. Co-PI, submitted to the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation, assessment and improvement of urban forestry strategies in urban areas in Latin America to inform future urban forest management plans for resilient and healthy cities. 2019 – 2021
Nature-based solutions for an urban sustainable future. Co-PI, submitted to the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research, builds a research consortium with links to governmental institutions and civil society organizations to further understand and better design nature-based solution initiatives in Latin America. 2019 – 2021
Improved health for urban citizens through biodiversity. Contributing researcher, submitted to the Belmont Forum, BiodivERsA Joint Call of the European Commission, NSERC, develops early warning systems of social-ecological tipping points linked to biodiversity and public health in cities and their hinterlands. 2019 – 2021
Strengthening international cooperation between EU and CELAC countries on sustainable urbanisation: Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) for restoration and rehabilitation of urban ecosystems (SC5-13-2018-2019) Co-PI, to be submitted to the European Commission H2020, explores the added value of nature-based solutions in the context of rapid urbanization in Latin American cities. 2020 – 2023
Articles in peer-reviewed journals:
Devisscher, T., Malhi, Y., and Boyd, E. (2018) Deliberation for wildfire risk management: Addressing conflicting views in the Chiquitania, Bolivia. The Geographical Journal. https://doi.org/10.1111/geoj.12261
Devisscher, T., Vignola, R., Coll Besa, M., Cronenbold, R., Pacheco, N., Schillinger, R., Canedi, V., Sandoval, C., Gonzalez, D. and Leclerc, G. (2016) Water security and adaptation in Latin American landscapes: understanding the socio-institutional context using a process of science-society engagement. Ecology and Society 21(4): 1-12.
Devisscher, T., Anderson, L.O., Aragão, L.E.O.C., Galván, L. and Malhi, Y. (2016) Increased wildfire risk driven by climate and development interactions in Bolivian Chiquitania, southern Amazonia. PLoS ONE 11(9): 1-29.
Devisscher, T., Boyd, E. and Malhi, Y. (2016) Anticipating future risk in social-ecological systems using fuzzy cognitive mapping: the case of wildfire dynamics in the Chiquitania, Bolivia. Ecology and Society 21(4): 1-28.
Devisscher, T., Malhi, Y. Rojas Landívar V.D. and I. Oliveras (2016) Understanding ecological transitions under recurrent wildfire: A case study in the seasonally dry tropical forests of the Chiquitania, Bolivia. Forest Ecology and Management 360: 273–286.
Bharwani, S., Coll Besa, M., Taylor, R., Fischer, M., Devisscher, T. and Kenfack, C. (2015) Identifying Salient Drivers of Livelihood Decision-Making in the Forest Communities of Cameroon: Adding Value to Social Simulation Models. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 18: 3.
Padgham, J., Devisscher, T., Chuluun, T., Mtilatila, L., Kaimila, E., Mansingh, I., Agyemang-Yeboah, F. and Obeng F.K. (2013) Building Shared Understanding and Capacity for Action: Insights on Climate Risk Communication from India, Ghana, Malawi, and Mongolia. International Journal of Communication 7: 14.
Books and theses:
Konijnendijk, C., Devisscher, T., Nesbitt, L., Lenhart, J., Salbitano, F., Cheng, Z.C., Lwasa, S., van den Bosch, M. Urban sustainable development goal impacts on forests and people. In: Potential impacts of the sustainable development goals on forests and the goods and services they provide. International Union of Forest Research Organizations Special Project World Forests, Society and Environment (IUFRO WFSE). Forthcoming 2019.
Devisscher, T., Nesbitt, L., Bardekjian, A. Main findings and trends in urban forestry. (2018) In: Forestry in the Midst of Global Changes. CRC Press. ISBN 9781138197084.
Devisscher, T. (2015) Wildfire under a changing climate in the Bolivian Chiquitania: a social-ecological systems analysis (PhD thesis). Oxford University, UK.
Aide, T.M., Albaladejo Montoro, J., Borras Jr., S.M., et al. (2012). Land Chapter. In: Global Environmental Outlook Report (GEO-5). Nairobi: United Nations Environment Programme.
Fleming, R., Kanowski, P., Brown, N., et al. (2011). Emerging perspectives on forest biodiversity. In: Emerging issues in our global environment. UNEP Year Book 2011. Nairobi: United Nations Environment Programme.
O’Brien, G., Devisscher, T., O’Keefe, P. (2011) The Adaptation Continuum: Groundwork for the Future. Saarbrücken: LAP LAMBERT, ISBN 9783843381437.
McMullen, C., Hayden, T., et al. (2009). New Science and Developments in Our Changing Environment.
UNEP Year Book 2009. Nairobi: United Nations Environment Programme.
Devisscher, T. (2009) Sustainability Analysis of Biofuel Production in Developing Countries: Linking National Perspectives with Ground Realities in Malaysia (MSc thesis). ISBN 978-3-639-22302-6
Devisscher, T. (2004) Design and Characterization of a Biological Corridor Between the Cloud-forests of Uyuca and El Volcán, Honduras (BSc thesis). Zamorano University, Honduras.
Other peer-reviewed contributions:
Wicander, S., Helfgott, A., Bailey, M., Munroe, R., Ampomah, G., Diouf, A., Devisscher, T., Corrigan, C. (2016) Resilience and adaptation planning for communities in protected areas. A step-by-step guide. UNEP- WCMC manual. United Nations Environment Programme. ISBN: 978-92-807-3492-8
Devisscher, T., Cronenbold, R., Coll Besa, M. (2015) Barriers, strengths and opportunities for ecosystem- based adaptation. EcoAdapt Working Paper Series No 10.
Gardner, G., Devisscher, T., Godar, J., Vignola, R. and Davis, M. (2015) Towards sustainability in frontier landscapes: propositions for the way ahead. Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute.
Devisscher, T., Cronenbold, R. and Coll Besa, M. (2015) Barreras, fortalezas y oportunidades para la adaptación basada en ecosistemas [Barriers, strengths and opportunities for ecosystem-based adaptation]. San Jose: EcoAdapt Working Paper Series 10.
Tiani, A.M., Coll Besa, M., Devisscher, T., Pavageau, C., Butterfield, R., Bharwani, S. and Bele, M.Y. (2015) Assessing current social vulnerability to climate change: A participatory methodology. Bogor: CIFOR Working Paper 169, Center for International Forestry Research
Devisscher, T., Bharwani, S., Tiani, A.M., Pavageau, C., Kwack, N.E. and Taylor, R. (2013) Current vulnerability in the Tri-National de la Sangha landscape, Cameroon. Bogor: CIFOR Working Paper 107, Center for International Forestry Research.
TEACHING & MENTORING ACTIVITIES
Supervision, UBC Faculty of Forestry. 2017 – ongoing
- Tree inventory project on UBC campus, SEEDs Sustainability program
- Directed study (UFOR449C) on fire governance in the expanding wildland-urban interface of British Columbia
- Work-learn study surveying forest plots along an urbanization gradient from Maple Ridge to Malcolm Knapp Research Forest
- Completion of three peer-reviewed articles and MSc thesis
- Mentoring in the annual course on ‘Resilience Building in the New Urban Agenda’ organized by the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM)
- Supervisory committee member of MSc thesis focused on deep learning applications to improve urban forest bio-surveillance
Teaching skills formation, UBC CTLT. 2017 – ongoing
- Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) for Faculty
- Course Design Intensive (CDI) workshop
Guest lectures, UBC Faculty of Forestry. 2017 – 2018
- Urban forests: ecosystem services and urban resilience (UFOR100)
- Urban forest resources and assessment (UFOR100)
- Scenario planning: introduction (CONS481)
Instruction, UBC Faculty of Forestry. 2017
- Four-week Vancouver Summer Program ‘An introduction to urban forestry’
Short course design and implementation, international. 2009 – 2011
- Adaptation principles and planning, Center for International Forestry Research, Indonesia
- Climate information for vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning, University of Cape Town, South Africa
- Climate Envelopes, Risk Communication, and Adaptation Planning, Environment Development Action in the Third World, Senegal
- Climate risk communication, Regional Climate Change Adaptation Knowledge Platform for Asia, Thailand
SKILLS & QUALIFICATIONS
- Spanish (native language)
- English (Official TOEFL) German (Sprachdiplom I and II) French (fluent spoken)
- Efficient project coordination and successful grant writing
- Interdisciplinarity combining qualitative and quantitative methods
- Technical and computer skills (e.g. R, ArcGIS, UCInet, Gephi)
- Excellent communication and facilitation skills
- Capacity to work in multi-cultural environments
- Commitment to quality work and rigor, eye for details
- Service-oriented approach and high sense of responsibility
MEMBERSHIPS & EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
- Certified holistic yoga instructor, 2017 – 2018
- Member of Village Vancouver focused on building sustainable and resilient communities, 2016 – 2018
- Finalist in the ‘Dance your PhD’ competition organised by AAAS/Science, 2015
- Chair of the Erasmus Mundus Association Course Quality Assurance Board, 2011 – 2012
- President of the EC Erasmus Mundus Alumni Association, Latin America, 2008 – 2010
- Advanced Open Water Diver certification, 2007
- Student representative of the MSc programme MESPOM, 2005 – 2007
- Student representative of the BSc programme at Zamorano University, 2003 – 2004
- Founder and director of the Dance Club at Zamorano University, 2001 – 2004