Professor Julia Martin-Ortega

Professor Julia Martin-Ortega


My research aims to further the understanding of the relationships of communities and individuals with ecosystems and how policy can best make use of this understanding for a more sustainable management of water and land resources. I specialise in inter and transdisciplinary research processes of impact-oriented nature. Graduated as Doctor in the University of Cordoba (Spain) in 2008, I joined the Sustainability Research Institute in July 2015, after five years at The James Hutton Institute in Scotland.

I am Associate Director of water@leeds, one of the largest interdisciplinary centres for water research in any university in the world. I form part of the Steering Committee of the Leeds Social Sciences Institute. I am member of Natural England’s Social Sciences Expert Panel and have been member of the Steering Committee of the Scottish Government’s Centre for Expertise in Waters. I have acted as reviewer and Chair for the Swedish Research Council and as reviewer for the Norwegian Research Council. I am member of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council Peer Review College. 

Recent research covers the following main areas:

  1. How to assess the social outcomes of ecosystem change. This includes looking at the multiple values that humans hold for nature, how to conceptualise and measure them. Prominent work in this area includes the most comprehensive socio-economic analysis of peatland restoration up to date, which has informed (amongst other) the UK’s Climate Change Committee Land Use Report.
  2. Behavioural aspects related to the adoption of best land management practices. This includes work on the link between land managers’  awareness of diffuse pollution and behavioural change. Work on this area has led to contributions to the first UK Phosphorus Transformation Strategy, and I currently lead the behavioural change strand of Northern Ireland’s Soil Health Scheme in collaboration with Afbi and funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
  3. Integrated catchments solutions, with particular emphasis on socio-economic aspects related to their implementation, as well as practitioners perceptions and how can they lead to social impact ‘on the ground’. This includes work on the Yorkshire’s iCASP programme, including natural flood management, peatland restoration and other nature-based solutions.

I have also recently started to engage with arts-based methods, like the use of Forum Theatre and its potential for application in environmental governance.


I develop all my work in collaboration with environmental practitioners, including policy makers, conservation organisations, water utilities and civil society organisations. While much of my recent work takes place in the UK, I have extensive collaborations networks in Europe and Latin America.  Trying to make a difference in environmental policy and practice drives everything I do.


Recent research projects include:


  • Associate Director water@leeds
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD
  • MSc
  • MBA

Professional memberships

  • European Association of Ecological Economics
  • Natural Environment Research Council Peer Review College

Research groups and institutes

  • Sustainability Research Institute
  • Economics and Policy for Sustainability

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>