Skip over navigation

Brendan Fisher

My research interests include biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services and the bi-directional relationship between ecosystem degradation and human poverty. I am keenly interested in the various and complex overlaps among these topics. Driving questions include: How does species-focused conservation compliment or hinder the provision of ecosystems services? Who benefits from conservation and who pays the opportunity costs? How large are the opportunity costs of conservation and how can they be compensated? What are the options for improving the livelihoods of the rural poor and marginalized while conserving natural systems? My disciplinary background is most closely akin to environmental economics and my approach to these questions reflects this.

My two main research projects are based in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and in Borneo. In Tanzania we are looking at how and where key ecosystem services are generated, who benefits from them, who pays the costs of conservation and what the economic value of these services is, as well as interventions to stem habitat conversion while improving livelihoods (e.g. increasing agricultural yield, increasing efficiency of resource use). In Borneo we are trying to understand both the market and nonmarket values of the ecosystem goods and services provided by a profile of forest qualities. By comparing the market and nonmarket benefits produced by oil palm plantations versus primary, secondary and production forests we can begin to see which state delivers the most societal welfare and consider what type of incentives (market and regulatory) can move us from one state of the forest to another. Here we are combining economic approaches with ecological data to demonstrate both a cost-benefit approach as well as a cost-effectiveness approach. Both projects have implications for, and are affected by, looming climate change – which will be integrated into the analyses.

I received a BS in Civil Engineering at Bucknell Univiersity in 1998, a MSc At the University of Oxford in 2001 and a PhD at the University of Vermont in 2006.

At STEP I will be working with Professor David Wilcove and Professor Michael Oppenheimer on the Borneo project and climate change research.

Selected Publications:
Fisher, B., A. Balmford, R.E. Green, R. Trevelyn. (2009). “Conservation Science Training: the need for an extra dimension. Oryx 43 (3) 361-363.
Fisher, B., R.K. Turner, A. Balmford et al. (2008). “Integrating Ecosystem Services and Economic Theory. Ecological Applications 18(8), 2050-2067.
Turner, R.K., B. Fisher, (2008). “To the Rich Man the Spoils.” Nature 451, 1067-1068.
Fisher, B., R.K. Turner, (2008). “Ecosystem Services: classification for valuation.” Biological Conservation 141, 1167-1169.
Naidoo, R., A.P. Balmford, R. Costanza, B. Fisher et al. (2008) “Global Mapping of Ecosystem Services and Conservation Priorities.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (28), 9495-9500.
Turner, R.K., S. Georgiou, B. Fisher (2008). Valuing Ecosystem Services: The case of multifunctional wetlands. Earthscan Publishing, London. 229pg.
Fisher, B. (2007). “CO2 Emissions: getting bang for the buck.” Science 318 (5858): 1865.
Fisher, B. (2007). “Ecosystems, Poverty and the Consumption Elephant.” In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland. Nancy E. Golubiewski and Cutler J. Cleveland (Topic Editors).
Fisher, B. and J. Erickson (2007). “Growth and Equity: dismantling the Kaldor-Kuznets-Solow consensus.” In Frontiers in Ecological Economics. J. Erickson and J. Gowdy. Northhampton MA, Edward Elgar.
Fisher, B. and R. Costanza (2005). “Regional commitments to reducing emissions.” Nature 438 (7066): 301-302.

Research Associate

405a Robertson Hall
Princeton University