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Lucas Dawson

Lucas Dawson
I am interested in how systemic complexity and deep uncertainty influence the governance and management of natural resources, and the development of robust strategies for a more sustainable development.


My research focuses on understanding – and modelling – the complex system dynamics that influence the governance and management of diverse types of natural resources, including forests, urban greenspace, wetlands, drinking water, etc. Natural resource management systems are emergent phenomena comprising strongly interdependent processes and outcomes. Emergence is precipitated by path-dependent constraints and opportunities, and is the result of multiple reinforcing feedbacks. As such, natural resource management systems are irreducible to their component parts, and risk being misunderstood if components are studied in isolation from each other or from their surrounding contexts. Decisions by individual actors, for example, are typically influenced by complex interactions between a variety of continuously evolving economic, socio-cultural, technological, biophysical, institutional, and demographic factors. My research utilises a complex systems approach to understand how the studied natural resource systems are shaped by interactions between endogenous (e.g. producers' knowledge och values) and exogenous (e.g. laws, market conditions) factors over time, and to identify robust policies and strategies to support a more sustainable development.



I am currently engaged in two main research projects:

Emergent social innovations in rural Sweden and their potential contribution to sustainable rural development.

This project explores two innovative social networks that have recently emerged in rural Sweden. REKO-ring connects small- scale, local agricultural producers directly with local consumers to circumvent long value chains, which, in addition to being perceived as less environmentally sustainable, are typically either inaccessible or are relatively unprofitable for small-scale, rural producers. Skogens mångbruk connects non-industrial forest owners who are interested in developing multiple use forests to better support a diverse set of income streams – including local tourism and recreation opportunities, food production, hunting, and handicrafts. 

This project aims to identify the underlying causal mechanisms by which these two social networks have emerged, and by which these networks contribute to rural development. 

Blue-green infrastructure for social cohesion: urban and peri-urban public places and spaces in the eyes of new-Swedes.

This project aims to improve current understanding regarding the multiple social values that new-Swedes assign to BGI as public places and spaces and assess how these values can be successfully integrated into spatial planning processes at different levels in order to improve sustainable living environments and facilitate social cohesion in Sweden’s urban and peri-urban areas. The project is conducted in Västerbotten, Västmanland, Örebro, Blekinge, Kronoberg and Skåne.


February 2020-present: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

June 2019-January 2020: Stockholm University, Dept. of Physical Geography
Post-PhD researcher

August 2013-May 2019: Stockholm University, Dept. of Physical Geography 
PhD Candidate 
Thesis title: "Unravelling Sustainability: The complex dynamics of emergent environmental governance and management systems at multiple scales"

August 2011-August 2013: Stockholm University, Dept. of Physical Geography 
Teacher/Course Coordinator

November 2016-2019: Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland, Guest Lecturer

Spring 2012: Hedmark University College, Norway, Teaching Assistent

Feb-June 2011: Stockholm University, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Teaching Assistent 

Selected publications

Elbakidze, M., L. Dawson, P. Milberg, G. Mikusiński, M. Hedblom, I. Kruhlov, T. Yamelynets, C. Schaffer, K.-E. Johansson, and M. Grodzynskyi. 2022. Multiple factors shape the interaction of people with urban greenspace: Sweden as a case study. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 74:127672.

Elbakidze, M., L. Dawson, C. L. McDermott, S. Teitelbaum, and M. Tysiachniouk. 2022. Biodiversity conservation through forest certification: key factors shaping national  Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard-development processes in Canada, Sweden, and Russia. Ecology and Society 27(1).

Dawson, L., M. Elbakidze, M. Schellens, A. Shkaruba, and P. K. Angelstam. 2021. Bogs, birds, and berries in Belarus: the governance and management dynamics of wetland restoration in a state-centric, top-down context. Ecology and Society 26(1).

Elbakidze, M., D. Surová, J. Muñoz-Rojas, J.-O. Persson, L. Dawson, T. Plieninger, and T. Pinto-Correia. 2021. Perceived benefits from agroforestry landscapes across North-Eastern Europe: What matters and for whom? Landscape and Urban Planning 209:104044–104044.

Dawson, L. 2019. Unravelling Sustainability: The complex dynamics of emergent environmental governance and management systems at multiple scales. Stockholm University, Stockholm.

Dawson, L., K. Persson, B. Balfors, U. Mörtberg, and J. Jarsjö. 2018. Impacts of the water framework directive on learning and knowledge practices in a Swedish catchment. Journal of Environmental Management 223:731–742.

Elbakidze, M., P. Angelstam, L. Dawson, A. Shushkova, V. Naumov, Z. Rendenieks, L. Liepa, L. Trasūne, U. Ustsin, N. Yurhenson, S. Uhlianets, M. Manton, A. Irbe, M. Yermokhin, A. Grebenzshikova, A. Zhivotov, and M. Nestsiarenka. 2018. Towards Functional Green Infrastructure in the Baltic Sea Region: Knowledge Production and Learning Across Borders. Pages 57–87 in A. H. Perera, U. Peterson, G. M. Pastur, and L. R. Iverson, editors. Ecosystem Services from Forest Landscapes. Springer International Publishing, Cham.

Elbakidze, M., T. Hahn, Zimmermann N., P. Cudlín, N. Friberg, P. Genovesi, R. Guarino, A. Helm, B. Jonsson, S. Lengyel, B. Leroy, T. Luzzati, A. Milbau, A. Pérez-Ruzafa, P. Roche, H. Roy, R. Sabyrbekov, A. Vanbergen, and V. Vandvik…L. Dawson 2018. Direct and indirect drivers of change in biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people. Pages 385–570 in M. Rounsevell, M. Fischer, A. Torre-Marin Rando, and A. Mader, editors. The IPBES regional assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services for Europe and Central Asia. Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem services, Bonn, Germany.

Dawson, L., M. Elbakidze, P. Angelstam, and J. Gordon. 2017. Governance and management dynamics of landscape restoration at multiple scales: Learning from successful environmental managers in Sweden. Journal of environmental management 197:24–40.

Elbakidze, M., P. Angelstam, T. Yamelynets, L. Dawson, M. Gebrehiwot, N. Stryamets, K.-E. Johansson, P. Garrido, V. Naumov, and M. Manton. 2017. A bottom-up approach to map land covers as potential green infrastructure hubs for human well-being in rural settings: A case study from Sweden. Landscape and Urban Planning 168:72–83.

Elbakidze, M., L. Dawson, K. Andersson, R. Axelsson, P. Angelstam, I. Stjernquist, S. Teitelbaum, P. Schlyter, and C. Thellbro. 2015. Is spatial planning a collaborative learning process? A case study from a rural-urban gradient in Sweden. Land Use Policy 48.

Dawson, L., and P. Schlyter. 2012. Less is more: Strategic scale site suitability for concentrated solar thermal power in Western Australia. Energy Policy 47:91–101.


Researcher at the Skogsmästarskolan
Telephone: +46725004336
Postal address:
Skogsmästarskolan, BOX 43
Visiting address: Herrgårdsvägen 8, 739 31 Skinnskatteberg, Skinnskatteberg

Publications list: