Dr Alan Dixon


Principal Lecturer in Geography

Geography and Archaeology

Contact Details

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

Research Interests

I am 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 my work has focused on the importance of wetland environments at the community level, where I have explored the ways in which 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.

I have been involved in various research and consultancy projects ranging from my own ESRC funded research that examined 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, I have been working with the NGO Self Help Africa in disseminating the Functional Landscape Approach for dambo management in Malawi. My work has also informed wetland policy making in various African countries as well as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. Together with Adrian Wood (University of Huddersfield) and Matthew McCartney (International Water Management Institute) our recent book, Wetland management and Sustainable Livelihoods in Africa, sets out a new agenda for wetland management in the 21st century.


I currently teach on a range of undergraduate modules that reflect my research interests. These include GEOG1120 People and Place, GEOG1122 Unequal World, GEOG2101 Highlands Fieldcourse, GEOG 2112 Researching Human Geography, GEOG2131 Geographies of Development, and GEOG3136 Environment and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa. The latter has been designed as a virtual fieldcourse which facilitates student interaction with a range of multimedia resources that simulate a field visit to western Ethiopia an area where I have worked periodically since 1996. In collaboration with Beacons Education Development Centre, a local NGO, I run 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 hydrologicalmanagement of wetlands in Illubabor, Southwest Ethiopia' (University of Huddersfield, 2000)
  • BSc (Hons) Human Ecology (Huddersfield, 1995)

Teaching &Research Interests

Current Teaching

GEOG1120 People and Place
GEOG2101 Human Geography Fieldcourse
GEOG2112 Researching Human Geography
GEOG2131 Geographies of Development
GEOG3136 Environment and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

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

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. Funded by 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. Funded by University of Otago.

2002 – 2003 Indigenous wetland management institutions for food security in Ethiopia. Funded by ESRC.

2002 The role of indigenous knowledge in wetland management. Funded by the British Academy.


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, p101114

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 Ethiopias 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 Africas 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 agriculturewetland 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

Link Tutor for MA Sustainable Development Advocacy (Professional Practice), The Bulmer Foundation
ISE Board Member

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)
Executive Committee member of Beacons Development Education Centre
Tiyeni Fund (UK-Malawi NGO) Trustee