Johanna Forster

University of East Anglia

Senior researcher


Johanna is an environmental social scientist, with over 10 years’ expertise in interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research that cross-cuts contemporary environmental issues around marine and coastal resource management and governance, climate change, hazards and risk. She specialises in understanding multi-level perceptions, knowledge and incentives (from community level to policy level) and the associated implications for sustainability, environmental stewardship and governance.

She has made important contributions to international and UK-based research on governance of coastal and marine resources and food security. She has extensive experience in the Wider Caribbean Region (Anguilla, St Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, Belize, Honduras, Dominica), as well as the Pacific (Hawai’i and Galapagos). She has applied her focus to research on community vulnerability, adaptation and resilience to environmental change, marine-based tourism livelihoods, governance of small-scale fisheries and food security, and cultural and historical influences on contemporary hazards and risk. More recently, she has expanded her focus to the use of novel deliberative methods to explore key issues and gaps associated with emerging energy technologies working with the UEA-Tyndall led project FAB-GGR. Her work combines quantitative and qualitative methods and approaches, spanning ecological, social and economic perspectives.

She also has a long-term interest in science communication (winning Silver medal for the Tyndall Centre at the Chelsea Flower Show for her ‘2050 Garden’), with varied experience in public engagement of environmental change, as well as working at the science-policy interface, as evidenced by her work with CEFAS (Centre for Environmental fisheries and Aquaculture Science), CCSUS (Collaborative Centre for Sustainable Use of the Seas) at the UEA, and MKEN (the Marine Knowledge Exchange Network) Director of Social-Ecological Interactions.  

She is also the Co-Lead for the Building Up Resilience Tyndall Research Theme, member of the Global Environmental Justice Research Group and Water Security Research Centre at UEA.


Peer-reviewed papers:

Forster, J., Vaughn, N., Gough, C. et al. Mapping feasibilities of Greenhouse Gas Removal: what has been missed? (In press Global Environmental Change).

Shelton, C., Forster, J. et al. Disaster risk and recovery from hurricane impacts in Caribbean fisheries (in prep, Fish and Fisheries).

Barclay, J., Wilkinson, E., White, C., Shelton C., Forster, J. et al. (2019) Historical trajectories of disaster risk in Dominica. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, 10 (2), 149-165.

Turner, R., Forster, J., et al. (2018) Social fit of coral reef governance varies among individuals. Conservation Letters, 11:e12422.

Forster, J., Turner, R.A., Fitzsimmons, C., et al. (2017) Evidence of a common understanding of proximate and ultimate drivers of reef health. Marine Policy, 84, 263-272.

Jordan, A.J., Huitema, D., Hilden, M., van Asselt, H., Rayner, T.J., Schoenefeld, J.J., Tosun, J., Forster, J. & Boasson, E.L. (2015) Emergence of polycentric climate governance and its future prospects. Nature Climate Change, 5, 977-982.

Turner, R.A., Fitzsimmons, C., Forster, J., et al.  (2014) Measuring good governance for complex ecosystems: Perceptions of coral reef-dependent communities in the Caribbean. Global Environmental Change, 29, 105-117.

Forster, J., Lake, I.R., Watkinson, A.R., & Gill, J.A. (2014) Marine dependent livelihoods and resilience to environmental change: A case study of Anguilla. Marine Policy, 45: 204-212.

Forster, J., Schuhmann, P.W., Lake, I.R., Watkinson, A.R., & Gill, J.A. (2012) The influence of hurricane risk on tourist destination choice in the Caribbean, Climatic Change, 114: 745-768.

Forster, J., Lake, I.R., Watkinson, A.R., & Gill, J.A. (2011) Marine biodiversity in the Caribbean UK Overseas Territories: perceived threats and constraints on environmental management. Marine Policy, 35: 647-657.

Selected book chapters and reports (of 20):

Jordan, A.J., Huitema, D., van Asselt, H., Forster, J. (eds) (2018) Governing climate change: Polycentricity in Action? Cambridge University Press, 389 pages. Open Access.

Shelton, C., Forster, J., White, C., Conlon, S. (2018) Hurricane impacts on Caribbean fisheries. Report for Cefas under the Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) 60 pages.

Mumby, P.J….Forster, J….et al. (2014) Towards reef resilience and sustainable livelihoods: A handbook for Caribbean coral reef managers. University of Exeter, Exeter, 172 pages.

Turner R.A., Gill D., Forster J., et al. (2014) Coral reef fisheries in a changing environment: Perceptions of change and livelihood responses. In: Enhancing stewardship in small-scale fisheries: practices and perspectives. McConney, P., Medeiros, R. & Pena, M (eds.). University of the West Indies, 165 pages.

Selected impact, engagement and esteem:

  • ‘Building Resilience’ Theme Lead: Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research,
  • Director Marine Knowledge Exchange Network (MKEN),
  • Innovations in Climate Governance (INOGOV) Network,, University of East Anglia, 2014-18: developed communications strategy for 28-country network.
  • FORCE project,, Barbados, Honduras, St Kitts and Nevis, and Belize Feb 10 – Aug 12: Designed and facilitated consultation meetings at local and national levels on reef-related livelihoods and management, for community members, practitioners and policy makers. Extensive media activities in each country.
  • Chelsea Flower Show, London, May 08: Silver medal winner. Co-designed and project-managed Tyndall Centre Climate Change ‘2050 garden: Exploring plants and practices in a changing climate’. Extensive media coverage - print, radio and TV.

Contact information