Dr Alan Dixon

Alan Dixon Profile

Principal Lecturer in Geography

Geography, Archaeology and the Environment

Contact Details

email: a.dixon@worc.ac.uk
tel: +44 (0)1905 54 2157

Research Interests

Alan is a Geographer and Human Ecologist with research interests in environment-development relationships in developing countries, particularly the dynamics and sustainability of socio-ecological systems. Much of Alan's work has focused on the importance of wetland environments at the community level, where he has explored how local knowledge, social capital and common property resource institutions contribute to sustainable wetland management strategies that produce win-win outcomes for both local peoples’ livelihoods and wetland ecosystem services.

Alan has been involved in various research and consultancy projects ranging from ESRC funded research examining the role of local institutional arrangements in wetland management, to work undertaken for the FAO that led to the development of global Guidelines for Wetland-Agriculture Interactions. More recently, Alan has been working with the NGO Self Help Africa in developing and disseminating the Functional Landscape Approach for dambo management in Malawi.

Alan's work has informed wetland policy making in various African countries as well as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. He has worked together with Adrian Wood (University of Huddersfield) and Matthew McCartney (International Water Management Institute) on the book, 'Wetland Management and Sustainable Livelihoods in Africa,' which sets out a new agenda for wetland management in the 21st century.



Alan currently teaches on a range of undergraduate modules that reflect his research interests. These include GEOG1120 People and Place, GEOG 2110 Researching Geography, GEOG2131 Geographies of Development, and GEOG3136 Environment and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa; the latter involving virtual fieldwork in Ethiopia and a 12-day residential field course to Malawi. In collaboration with Beacons Education Development Centre, a local NGO, Alan runs a conference every year which gives students an opportunity to engage with practitioners and decision-makers in the field of international development. This is an integral part of the student learning experience on the GEOG2131 module.



  • PhD 'Indigenous knowledge and the hydrological management of wetlands in Illubabor, Southwest Ethiopia' (University of Huddersfield, 2000)
  • BSc (Hons) Human Ecology (Huddersfield, 1995)

Teaching & Research Interests

 Current Teaching

GEOG1212 People and Place

GEOG1216 Risk, Resilience and Sustainability

GEOG2110 Researching Geography

GEOG2131 Geographies of Development

GEOG3136 Environment and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Malawi Field Course

GEOG3136 Environment and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Virtual Field Course

Research Interests

Environment-development relationships and sustainable livelihoods in developing countries
Local institutions, local knowledge, and social capital in natural resource management
Wetland environments and the political ecology of wetland management
Sustainable development
Participatory research methods

Research & Consultancy

Research and Consultancy Projects

2018 ‘Striking a Balance: Developing a green economy around Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda’. Development of training resources for Self Help Africa.

2015 ‘Healthy streams for healthy people: a socio-ecological index for Belize’, Darwin Initiative Scoping Award (with Dr Rachael Carrie).

2015 – 2017 ‘20 years of wetland management research and policy development in Ethiopia’, University of Worcester Supporting Research Excellence Scheme.

2014 ‘Sustainability literacy among University of Worcester students’, University of Worcester ‘Learning for Sustainable Futures’ Scheme.

2014 Functional Landscape Approach (FLA) Training for Self Help Africa / Wetland Action, Northern Province, Zambia

2012 – 2013 Functional Landscape Approach (FLA) Training for DISCOVER Programme, Malawi. Funded by Self Help Africa / Wetland Action

2012 ‘Institutional arrangements for wetland management in Malawi’. Research project funded by University of Worcester.

2008 – 2009 ‘Local institutional arrangements for wetland management in SAB (Striking a Balance) Project Areas in Zambia and Malawi’. Wetland Action (Zambia and Malawi).

2006 – 2008 ‘Guidelines for Wetland Agriculture Interactions’. Funded by FAO / Wetland Action

2006 – 2007 ‘Food security from Ethiopia’s wetlands – humans and wild vertebrates in conflict’. University of Otago.

2002 – 2003 ‘Indigenous wetland management institutions for food security in Ethiopia’. ESRC.

2002 ‘The role of indigenous knowledge in wetland management’. British Academy.



Dixon, AB (2018) ‘Wetlands’. In: Binns, JA, Lynch, K, and Nel, E (Eds) The Handbook of African Development. Routledge, London.

Wood, AP, Sutcliffe, P and Dixon, AB (2016) ‘Wetlands of the Baro-Akobo River System in Ethiopia’. In: Finlayson, CM, McInnes, R, and Everard, M (Eds) The Wetland Book, Springer, Netherlands.

Dixon, AB and Carrie, R (2015) ‘Creating local institutional arrangements for sustainable wetland socio-ecological systems: lessons from the ‘Striking a Balance’ project in Malawi’. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology 23, 1, p40-52

Wood, AP, Dixon, AB and McCartney, M (2013) (eds) Wetlands and livelihoods in Africa. Earthscan, London. 281pp

Quirin, C and Dixon, AB (2012) Food security, politics and perceptions of wildlife damage in Western Ethiopia. International Journal of Pest Management, 58,2, p101-114

Binns, JA, Dixon, AB and Nel, E (2011) Africa: diversity and development. Routledge, London.

Lee, B, Binns, JA and Dixon, AB (2010) The Dynamics of Urban Agriculture in Hanoi, Vietnam. Field Actions Science Reports, Special Issue 1, 8pp

Dixon, AB (2009) Local responses to marginalisation: human-wildlife conflict in Ethiopia's wetlands. Geography 94, 1, p38-47.

Maconachie R, Dixon, AB and Wood, AP (2009) Decentralization and local institutional arrangements for wetland management in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone. Applied Geography 29, 2, 269-279

Buch, A and Dixon, AB (2009) South Africa's working for Water programme: A win-win situation for environment and development? Sustainable Development, 17, 3, p129-141.

Dixon, A B (2008) The resilience of local wetland management institutions in Ethiopia. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 29, 3, 341 - 357

Dixon, AB, Wood, AP, Finlayson, M and Halsema, GE (2008) Exploring agriculture wetland interactions: a framework for analysis. In: Wood, A P and Halsema, GE (Eds) Scoping agriculture-wetland interactions: Towards a sustainable multiple response strategy. FAO, Rome. p5-28.

Binns, J.A., Dixon, A.B. and Spellman, G. (2007) Sustainable development. Philip Allan Updates, London.

Dixon, A.B. (2005) Wetland sustainability and the evolution of indigenous knowledge in Ethiopia. The Geographical Journal, 171, 4, p306-323.

Dixon, A.B. (2003) Indigenous management of wetlands: experiences in Ethiopia, Ashgate, Aldershot. 260pp.

Dixon, AB (2003) The indigenous evaluation of wetlands research in Ethiopia. Development in Practice, 13, 4, p 394 - 398.

Dixon, A.B. and Wood, A.P. (2003) Wetland cultivation and hydrological management in East Africa: Matching community and hydrological needs through sustainable wetland use. Natural Resources Forum, 27, 2, p 117-129.

Dixon, A.B. (2002) The hydrological impacts and sustainability of wetland drainage cultivation in Illubabor, Ethiopia, Land Degradation and Development, 13, 1, p17-31.

University Roles & External Responsibilities


University Roles

Course Leader for Geography

Member of University Sustainability Committee

Responsible Futures Steering Committee


External Responsibilities

Associate Editor of Wetlands, Journal of the Society of Wetland Scientists (published by Springer)

Deputy Director of Wetland Action (European Economic Interest Grouping)

Volunteer for Beacons Development Education Centre (Worcester) 

Tiyeni Fund (UK-Malawi NGO) Technical Advisor