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Alister James Scott

Professor in Environmental Geography

Department: Geography and Environmental Sciences

Alister is a geographer who works at disciplinary and professional boundaries and edges in dealing with interdisciplinary problems. His career has encompassed both policy (Dartmoor National Park and Scottish Natural Heritage) and academic positions (Welsh Agricultural College, University of Wales Aberystwyth, Aberdeen University, Waikato University and Birmingham City University). He left Birmingham City University as Professor of Environment and Spatial Planning and joined Northumbria University as Professor of Environmental Geography on November 1st 2016. Alister is also a chartered planner of the Royal Town Planning Institute (MRTPI).

Alister -Scott ,-Northumbria -University -web-Alister's research addresses messy problems concerning policy and decision making across built and natural environments. He has published over 40 peer review papers and secured grants in excess of £2 million. Crucially he has developed a research model that is policy-led and involves policy and practice communities embedded as members of research teams he has led. Recent projects include the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme Managing environmental change at the rural urban fringe and the UK National Ecosystem Assessment follow on programme looking at new tools to improve policy and decision making. An ESRC  project has just concluded looking at developing a game board resource kit to improve the way public engagement can take place.

His current work includes a NERC grant on green infrastructure working with various planning authorities on a natural capital planning tool that values ecosystem services in a range of development scenarios and a Research Council UK grant working with a large interdisciplinary team on Birmingham as a pilot as part of the Urban Living programme.

His teaching covers a wide range of governance subjects straddling urban and rural domains and is based on real life projects working in partnership with community groups and professional bodies. He was awarded the first ever university of Wales award in 2002 for excellence in teaching and he is passionate about the need for teaching excellence that both challenges and motivates.    

Alisters research leadership skills have been recognised with the RTPI award for planning excellence in 2012 and his teaching, research and industry engagement skills with the award as BCU staff member of the year in 2013.     

In moving to Northumbria, Alister is keen to build his research and teaching at the interface of the built and natural environment and help to embed the value of nature more effectively into policy and decision making.

@profalister (twitter)

Campus Address

Ellison Building
City Campus

0191 349 5319


  • PhD 1986
  • BA 1983

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

  • Bioeconomy:-  multidisciplinary research theme departmental champion
  • Interdisciplinary  research practice and impact.
  • Spatial planning and environmental governance: improving the way policy and decision are made with regard to mainstreaming nature. 
  • Public participation and engagement
  • Ecosystem Approach and ecosystem services 

Professional Activity

Chartered planner MRTPI 

Current/Recent Projects

Bryson et al  Scott AJ (2016) From Citizen to Co-innovator, from City Council to Facilitator: Integrating Urban Systems to Provide Better Outcomes for People (BOP) CI 400k Urban Living Partnership RCUK and Innovate UK (Co Investigator and Work Package leader) )

Sadler, J, Scott AJ and Holzinger, O (2015) Testing a natural capital tool for improved green infrastructure 120k  NERC (Co-investigator and Work Package leader)

*Scott AJ (2015) South Downs National Park: mainstreaming the ecosystem approach into the local plan 2k

*Scott et al (2014) Maximising the Impact of Games as Effective Knowledge Exchange Tools: The Rufopoly Resource Kit Grant to ESRC 120K

*Scott (2014) Sustainability Appraisal Spatial Plan for Recovery and Growth, NEA and Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership 33k

*Scott (2012-2014) National Ecosystems Assessment Follow on UNEP WMC WP9:  Engagement with end users and development of a framework to prioritise tool development.  Research Councils \UK; Defra, Welsh Government 100K

*Scott (2012-2014) National Ecosystems Assessment Follow on UNEP WMC WP10:  Development and enhancement of tools and resources for with the findings/methods of the UK NEA Research Councils \UK; Defra, Welsh Government 100k

Reed, M, Scott, AJ  et al (2012) Developing Visitor Payback as part of a Payments for Ecosystem Services Defra 30k

*Scott AJ (2010-2011) Managing Environmental Change at the Fringe Phase IV RELU ESRC 145k

Key Publications

Atlee AC, Reed MS, Carter CE, Scott AJ, Vella S, Hardman M, Neumann RK (2015) Tools for assessing ecosystem services futures: a review. CAB reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources 10: 1-13

Scott, A.J ,Carter, C., Hölzinger, O., Everard, M., Raffaelli, D., Hardman, M., Glass J  Leach, K., Wakeford, R., Reed, M., Grace, M., Sunderland, T., Waters, R., Corstanje, R. Grayson, N., Harris, J and Taft, A. (2014) Tools – Applications, Benefits and Linkages for Ecosystem Science (TABLES), Final Report to the UNEPWMC Research Councils UK, Welsh Government and Defra  June 2014.,   UNEP-WCMC,LWEC,

Adams, D., Scott A.J and Hardman,  M. (2013)(published 2014)  Guerrilla Warfare in the Planning System:  Revolutionary Progress towards Sustainability?   Geografriska Annaler B. Series B, Human Geography 95 (4): 375–387.

Scott AJ , Shannon P and Hardman M, Miller, D. (2014) Evaluating the cumulative impact problem in spatial planning: a case study of wind turbines in Aberdeenshire, UK  Town Planning Review, 85 (4) 457-486

McMorran Scott A.J and Price, M. (2014) Reconstructing sustainability; participant experiences of community land tenure in North West Scotland, Journal of Rural Studies  33 20-31

Scott, A.J., Carter, C.E., Larkham, P., Reed, M., Morton, N., Waters, R., Adams, D., Collier, D., Crean, C., Curzon, R., Forster, R., Gibbs, P., Grayson, N., Hardman, M., Hearle, A., Jarvis, D., Kennet, M. Leach, K., Middleton, M., Schiessel, N., Stonyer, B., Coles, R. (2013) Disintegrated Development at the Rural Urban Fringe Disintegrated Scott (2011) : Re-connecting spatial planning theory and practice Progress in Planning 83 1-52

PGR Supervision

Louis Durant 2016-2019 Landscape Scale Conservation at Birmingham City University ongoing

Claudia Carter 2015-2018 Applying the Ecosystem Approach at the landscape scale: Exploring new perspectives on land use planning and management advice for city regions at Birmingham City University ongoing

Colin Fernley 2015-2018 Localism and Neighbourhood Plans  at Harper Adams University College ongoing


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