Molly Simmons

Molly Simmons


I am a second year Sowerby Researcher at the Sustainabilty Research Institute (SRI) in the School of Earth and Enviroment. My research is funded by the Peter Sowerby Foundation, as part of the PhD network on barriers and benefits of landscape-scale restoration in the Yorkshire Dales. Before this project, I achieved a BA in Geography and Spanish and an MSc in Sustainable Cities, both at the University of Leeds.

Research interests

My project title is ‘Future landscapes, restoration, and governance: negotiating visions for landscape-scale restoration’. Landscape-scale restoration is increasingly cited as a potential solution to the intersecting crises of climate, biodiversity loss, and land degradation. It involves ‘scaling-up’ restoration to the landscape or ecosystem scale, to improve ecological connectivity and scale-up other social and ecological benefits. However, restoration at this scale is a challenge because it involves bringing together a greater number and diversity of landscape actors. As with other multi-stakeholder governance processes, different actors will likely have different preferences for future landscape-scale restoration, and the landscape more generally, and it is important to identify these. I am interested in capturing these preferences or ‘visions’ for future landscapes among different landscape actors, to what extent they are contested, and the potential for creating ‘shared visions’ and fostering collective action. I am also interested in the governance process in the ‘scaling-up’ of restoraton, and the power and participation dynamics that impact who is involved in this process, who benefits, and who does not. My current focus is on a case study in the Yorkshire Dales; I am first planning to use a methodological combination of participatory photography and Q-methodology to visually capture landscape actors visions for the future landscape and identify to what extent their preferences are contested. 

I am also interested in interdisciplinary research and research communication; my role as a  Priestley Climate Scholar at the Priestley Centre for Climate Futures provides opportunities to develop my skills and interest in these areas. 

I regularly attend meetings for a number of relevant research groups: Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere and Forest (LEAF), Social and Political Dimensions of Food Systems, and Life and Land. 


  • MSc Sustainable Cities - Distinction
  • BA Geography and Spanish

Research groups and institutes

  • Sustainability Research Institute
  • Social and Political Dimensions of Sustainability