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Professor of Environmental Geography, Northumbria University, Newcastle

Alister is a geographer who works at disciplinary and professional boundaries and edges in dealing with interdisciplinary problems. His career has encompassed both policy (Dartmoor National Park and Scottish Natural Heritage) and academic positions (Welsh Agricultural College, University of Wales Aberystwyth, Aberdeen University, Waikato University and Birmingham City University). He left Birmingham City University as Professor of Environment and Spatial Planning and joined Northumbria University as Professor of Environmental Geography on November 1st 2016. Alister is also a chartered planner of the Royal Town Planning Institute (MRTPI).

Alister's research addresses messy problems concerning policy and decision making across built and natural environments. He has published over 40 peer review papers and secured grants in excess of £2 million. Crucially he has developed a research model that is policy-led and involves policy and practice communities embedded as members of research teams he has led. Recent projects include the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme Managing environmental change at the rural urban fringe and the UK National Ecosystem Assessment follow on programme looking at new tools to improve policy and decision making. An ESRC project has just concluded looking at developing a game board resource kit to improve the way public engagement can take place.
His current work includes a NERC grant on green infrastructure working with various planning authorities on a natural capital planning tool that values ecosystem services in a range of development scenarios and a Research Council UK grant working with a large interdisciplinary team on Birmingham as a pilot as part of the Urban Living programme.

His teaching covers a wide range of governance subjects straddling urban and rural domains and is based on real life projects working in partnership with community groups and professional bodies. He was awarded the first ever university of Wales award in 2002 for excellence in teaching and he is passionate about the need for teaching excellence that both challenges and motivates.

Alisters research leadership skills have been recognised with the RTPI award for planning excellence in 2012 and his teaching, research and industry engagement skills with the award as BCU staff member of the year in 2013.
In moving to Northumbria, Alister is keen to build his research and teaching at the interface of the built and natural environment and help to embed the value of nature more effectively into policy and decision making.


  • –present
    Professor of Environment and Spatial Planning, Birmingham City University
  • 2016–present
    Professor of Environmental Geography , Northumbria University


  • 1983 
    University of Wales , BA Geography