Sarah Gergel, Associate Professor, Landscape Ecology & Conservation

Landscape Ecology Lab, Forest and Conservation Sciences

Sarah E. Gergel, Associate Professor

Sarah Cardamom

Under a patch of Cardamom in Kerala, India

Current Interests

I lead a team of researchers who work to understand the impact of landscape pattern and land cover change on ecosystem services. We use remote sensing, aerial photography, GIS, and participatory mapping and I routinely collaborate with social scientists. Our study landscapes span a diverse range of ecosystem types, from forests to rivers to grasslands and coral reefs. We tackle problems in places such as Panama, Philippines, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, India, and elsewhere in SE Asia, as well as local landscapes throughout British Columbia. My current international collaborations with several CGIAR institutions and the Wildlife Institute of India examine how ecosystem services, poverty, and livelihoods and are impacted by the configuration of key forest patches within agricultural mosaics.

  • In a large collaboration with CIFOR and CIMMYT supported by SESYNC, I am exploring the role of forests in supporting human nutrition. Our comparative project spans multiple countries throughout SE Asia and Africa. We are examining the extent to which household nutrition is derived from forest foods versus agricultural activities using a novel combination of high spatial resolution remote sensing and household surveys.
  • A longstanding research emphasis of mine is examining land cover impacts on water quality (spanning streams, rivers, and riparian zones), and we have recently expanded into urban streams and groundwater contamination.
  • My current NSERC Discovery Grant research examines long-term dynamics of ecosystem services incorporating historical mapping approaches (such as aerial photography and land surveys). As part of the NSERC Strategic Network CNAES (the Canadian Network for Aquatic Ecosystem Services) my team is using participatory mapping in conjunction with local communities and resource managers to locate hotspots of ecosystem service conflicts.

These diverse projects on several continents yield exciting new insights on the value of using complementary approaches to science. Through comparing and contrasting remote sensing and local ecological knowledge (LEK), we aim to provide much-needed advice on the strengths and weakness of geomatics and LEK.


Sarah Elizabeth Gergel


a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Faculty of Forestry
Forest Sciences Centre
2424 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada

Forest and Conservation Sciences
Forest Sciences Centre
2424 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada

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