Belcher, Brian

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Brian Belcher’s research has focused on understanding and improving the role and potential of natural resources to sustainably contribute to rural development and on research effectiveness. Belcher served as director of the Centre for Livelihoods and Ecology at RRU from 2007 to 2013, when he became the university's first Tier 1 Canada Research Chair. As a CRC, he is leading a program in sustainability research effectiveness that aims to develop theory and methodology for evaluating sustainability research in complex transdisciplinary contexts and to conduct comparative analyses and evaluations of a series of sustainability research projects. Belcher teaches in the Doctor of Social Sciences program and supervises master's and doctoral students. He is also a senior associate scientist with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Consortium Research Program of Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, where he is a member of the monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment team. He is a founding member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Evaluation Community of Practice. Belcher is an avid cyclist and president of the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 15
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    Linking transdisciplinary research characteristics and quality to effectiveness: A comparative analysis of five research-for-development projects
    (Environmental Science & Policy, 2019) Belcher, Brian; Claus, Rachel; Davel, Rachel; Ramirez, Luisa
    More and more effective research is needed to help address complex sustainability problems. Many research approaches have adopted more transdisciplinary characteristics as a way to improve effectiveness. However, empirical evidence of the extent to which and how transdisciplinary research design and implementation contribute to (more) effective scientific and social outcomes remains limited. This paper reports a comparative analysis of five research-for-development projects implemented in Peru and Indonesia to: characterize the extent to which projects employed transdisciplinary principles; assess the extent to which and how intended project outcomes were achieved; analyze the relationship between transdisciplinary research approaches and outcomes; and provide lessons from the experience of using a theory-based approach to evaluate a set of case studies. Our analysis demonstrates that the projects employing more transdisciplinary principles in their design and implementation make more diverse contributions and have a greater breadth of influence.
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    Forests, livelihoods, and conservation: Broadening the empirical base
    (World Development, 2014) Wunder, Sven; Angelsen, Arild; Belcher, Brian
    More than 10,000 years after the Agricultural Revolution started, millions of rural smallholders across the developing world may still derive as much income from foraging forests and wildlands as from cultivating crops. These steady environmental income flows come often from public forests, and are extracted by men and women alike. However, inflexible supplies from nature, the physical hardship of harvesting, and commonly low returns limit their role as safety nets and pathways out of poverty. While their harvesting does not preclude the ongoing conversion of wildlands to agriculture, privileged access to high-quality environmental resources can become a strong local conservation motive.
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    Forest-based livelihoods strategies conditioned by market remoteness and forest proximity in Jharkhand, India
    (World Development, 2015) Belcher, Brian; Achdiawan, Ramadhani; Dewi, Sonya
    The study uses a novel method to investigate the role of forest proximity, market remoteness, and caste in determining household income, especially forest income, in an underdeveloped region of India. A high (>50%) proportion of total income is earned in cash. Forest products contribute substantially to total income, with fuelwood as the most important forest product. Proximity to forest is associated with higher forest incomes as expected, but remote villages do not have higher forest incomes or lower cash incomes than less remote villages. Higher off-farm income is associated with better road access and higher income households generally.
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    Environmental income and rural livelihoods: A global-comparative analysis
    (World Development, 2014) Angelsen, Arild; Jagger, Pamela; Babigumira, Ronnie; Belcher, Brian; Hogarth, Nicholas J.; Bauch, Simone; Börner, Jan; Smith-Hall, Carsten; Wunder, Sven
    This paper presents results from a comparative analysis of environmental income from approximately 8000 households in 24 developing countries collected by research partners in CIFOR’s Poverty Environment Network (PEN). Environmental income accounts for 28% of total household income, 77% of which comes from natural forests. Environmental income shares are higher for low-income households, but differences across income quintiles are less pronounced than previously thought. The poor rely more heavily on subsistence products such as wood fuels and wild foods, and on products harvested from natural areas other than forests. In absolute terms environmental income is approximately five times higher in the highest income quintile, compared to the two lowest quintiles.
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    A response to “Assessing the impact of transdisciplinary research: The usefulness of relevance, credibility, and legitimacy for understanding the link between process and impact
    (Research Evaluation, 2018) Belcher, Brian; Ramirez, Luisa F.; Davel, Rachel; Claus, Rachel
    Hansson and Polk (2018, Research Evaluation, 27/2: 132–44) aim to assess the usefulness of the concepts of relevance, credibility, and legitimacy for understanding the link between process and impact in transdisciplinary (TD) research. However, the paper seems to misunderstand and misrepresent some of the ideas in the two main reference articles. It also uses definitions of the concepts it aims to test that are inconsistent with the definitions offered by the reference papers. The methods description is insufficient to know what data were collected or how they were analyzed. More importantly, the effort to understand relationships between process and impact in TD research needs more careful definitions of the concepts outcome and impact as well as more objective ways to assess outcomes and impact. This letter discusses shortcomings in the article and makes suggestions to improve conceptual clarity and methods for empirically assessing TD research effectiveness.