Cecile Barnaud

Cecile Barnaud

session, year:
2018 1st


Receiving laboratory:
James Hutton Institute, Aberden, Scotland

Country of origin:


Country of destination:

United Kingdom

Last available contact


Download Curriculum Vitae

Mobility project

Using the lens of ecosystem services to highlight social interdependencies and assess collective action : the case of natural reforestation in mountainous areas

The concept of Ecosystem services (ES), broadly defined as the benefits nature provide to people, has become central in understanding and promoting the sustainability of socio-ecological systems (SES). There is also a growing consensus that polycentric governance, combining state, market and collective action mechanisms, is needed for the sustainable governance of these SES. And yet, in the ES scientific litterature, the governance of ES has been predominantly thought of in terms of market or state-based instruments. Comparatively, collective action mechanisms have rarely been considered. This ESCAle project addresses this gap by bringing together the notions of ES and collective action. Its builds on the Secoco project (funded by the INRA metaprogramme Ecoserv), in which we have designed a conceptual framework that uses an ES lens to highlight social interdependencies among people (beneficiaries and providers of ES) so as to shed a new light on existing or potential collective action among them. In the Secoco project, we have applied this framework in three case studies located in mountainous areas of France and Spain to the issue of natural reforestation of abandoned grasslands. The research proposal underlying this mobility project in Scotland rests on the application of the Secoco framework in a case study located in the Scottish highlands, to the same issue of natural reforestation. While, in France, natural reforestation is often negatively perceived as a threat to biodiversity and traditional local activities, there is an emerging movement in Scotland seeing it as an opportunity to restore wild ecosystems. The objectives of this project are twofold: (i) to characterize the social interdependencies underlying natural reforestation in Scottish uplands, so as to further understand associated existing or potential collective action mechanisms, and (ii) to compare the French, Spanish and Scottish case studies so as to produce generic knowledge on how interfaces between agriculture, environment and society are being socially constructed and negotiated differently across Europe around the controversial issue of rewilding.

Biography & research interests

I am a social scientist working on concerted management of natural resources, studying how the interface between agriculture, environment and society is being socially constructed and negotiated among local stakeholders. Initially trained as an agro-economist (AgroParis Tech), my PhD in human geography (Paris Nanterre University) addressed the question of how to deal with power asymmetries in participatory processes, based on case studies in Northern Thailand. During my post-doc (UMR Green, CIRAD), I analysed the uncertainties and controversies underlying the concept of ecosystem services (ES). Since 2011, as a permanent researcher at INRA (UMR Dynafor, Toulouse), my research activities have revolved around three axis: (i) to question the norms and values that underpin the ES concept, (ii) to understand the complex social interactions underlying ES dynamics, (iii) to accompany innovative processes of collaborative management of ES, through participatoryaction research. My study sites are mainly located in mountainous pastoral agro-ecosystems. Since 2015, I have coordinated a research project (funded by the Metaprogram Ecoserv) entitled Secoco on Ecosystem Services and Collective Action, in collaboration with researchers from UAB (Autonomous University of Barcelona), CNRS, CIRAD, and in partnership with Biosphere Reserves from the UNESCO Man And Biosphere (MAB) Program.

Selected publications

Barnaud C., Corbera E., Muradian R., Salliou N., Sirami C., Vialatte A., Choisis J-P, Dendoncker N., Mathevet R., Moreau C., Reyes-Garcia V., Boada M., Deconchat M., Cibien C., Garnier S., Maneja R., Antona M., 2018. Ecosystem services, social interdependencies and collective action: a conceptual framework. Ecology & Society, 23(1):15. Doi: 10.5751/ES-09848-230115.

Salliou, N., Barnaud, C., 2017. Landscape and biodiversity as new resources for agro-ecology? Insights from farmers' perspectives. Ecology and Society, 22 (2):16. Doi: 10.5751/ ES-09249-220216.

Barnaud, C. and Antona, M., 2014. Deconstructing ecosystem services: Uncertainties and controversies around a socially constructed concept. Geoforum, 56, 113-123.

Barnaud, C., Van Paassen, A.M., 2013. Equity, power games, and legitimacy: dilemmas of participatory natural resource management. Ecology and Society, 18 (2). Doi: 10.5751/ES-05459-180221.

Barnaud, C., Le Page, C., Dumrongrojwatthana, P., Trebuil, G., 2013. Spatial representations are not neutral: Lessons from a participatory agent-based modelling process in a land-use conflict. Environmental Modelling and Software, 45, 150-159.


Ecosystem services, Stakeholders, Governance, Conflict, Collaboration, Mountains, Socio-ecological systems