Meet Murray Collins, an interdisciplinary PhD student from London. His research on deforestation, carbon emissions and biodiversity brought him to Umeå and CERE.

Murray CollinsThis year's course in Stated Preferences Methods brought thirteen people with 10 different nationalities from Norway to Madagascar to Umeå. CERE sat down for a talk with one of them, PhD student Murray Collins.

How much are people willing to pay to conserve biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions?

Forests rich in carbon and biodiversity, which provide essential ecosystem services for humanity locally and globally, are being cut down. This means that unique but little-known species of trees, plants and insects, and charismatics like tigers and parrots face extinction, climate change will accelerate and the rural poor lose livelihoods.

Collins is using remote sensing to estimate these forest carbon stocks in REDD project areas (see facts below) and to try to test whether initial REDD project activities have had an effect on deforestation rates relative to the surrounding landscape. Further, he wants to know if there is added value in incorporating biodiversity in carbon credit schemes: how much are people willing to pay to conserve biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions? He will try and find a method to estimate added value for REDD projects. And it is his hunt for estimating value of an ecological world that brought him to Umeå.

Collins interdisciplinary PhD gives him a broad input spectrum. He is based at both the London School of Economics and the Zoological Society of London. His earlier work is within natural sciences, more specifically conservation science, where he with help of camera trapping, conducted baseline biodiversity assessments for large mammals in Indonesia's highly biodiverse forests . Adding novel economics research to the mix is not an easy task. But CERE experience says ecology and economics can be combined and we look forward to reading Mr Collins work in about one year's time.

The annual stated preferences methods course took place on the 13th-17th of May 2013. Teaching was: Professor Bengt Kriström, Dr. Thomas Laitila, Professor of Statistics and PhD Lei Shi.


REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), a system created in order to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation of tropical forests. In short, creating a system where wealthy nations such as Norway pay forest-rich nations to manage their forests more sustainably.

Photo of mr Collins by: Carolina Pavese

Photo of class 2013 by: Mona Bonta Bergman