Ewch i’r prif gynnwys
Dr Ella Furness

Dr Ella Furness

Research Associate (PLACE)

Ar gael fel goruchwyliwr ôl-raddedig


Hannah is a Research Associate at the Sustainable Places Research Institute, focusing on work in partnership with the Canal and River Trust. Current work investigates community use of blue-greenspaces, its benefits and what prevents people accessing them. Hannah is a social scientist whose research has focused on community, place, and sustainability with her PhD exploring these in the context of gardening projects in south Wales. Much of her work is in collaboration with voluntary and community associations.

She previously worked at the University of the West of England, Bristol evaluating third sector initiatives relating to food. Hannah undertook her postgraduate research and study at Cardiff School of Geography and Planning. Prior to this she worked for voluntary environmental organisations including the National Trust.


  • Canal & River Trust
  • SOCOPA - Somali Community and Parent Association Leicester.
  • Garden Organic
  • Alliance Homes


Alongside research in Cardiff University's school of Geography and Planning Hannah taught undergraduate human geography and postgraduate students specialising in sustainability. Prior to taking up post at the Sustainable Places Research Institute Hannah was Research Associate at the Institute of Sustainability, Health and Environment at University of the West of England, Bristol. In between periods of post-graduate study Hannah worked for third sector environmental organisations on volunteer engagement and external affairs. She was the National Trust's Welsh specialist on environment and land use policy for almost five years during which time she liaised with Welsh Government, public and private bodies on issues ranging from farm systems to climate change mitigation.

Education & Qualifications

  • PhD Cardiff University School of Geography and Planning, 2014, title "Growing Together: An ethnography of community gardening as place making". 
  • MSc Sustainability, Planning and Environmental Policy (Distinction), Cardiff University School of Geography and Planning, 2004. 
  • BSocSc in Social Anthropology (First), Manchester University in 1997.

Anrhydeddau a Dyfarniadau

Grants Awarded

  • Leicester Young Ecology Adventurers, research partner, Heritage Lottery Fund, 2017-2018.
  • Alliance Homes, co-investigator for independent evaluation, Big Lottery Fund, 2015-2017.
  • Garden Organic, co-investigator for independent evaluation, Big Lottery Fund, 2014-2016.
  • Pembroke 21C, awarded tender for research, Welsh Government Supporting Sustainable Living fund, 2012.
  • Graduate College Cardiff University Interdisciplinary Research Initiatives - co-applicant for grants awarded for conference   and seminar, 2011 & 2013.
  • Cardiff University President’s Research Scholarship - full PhD funding, 2010.

Aelodaethau proffesiynol

  • Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society with the Institute of British Geographers.
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Safleoedd academaidd blaenorol

  • 2015- present Research Associate, Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University.
  • 2014-2015 Research Associate, Institute for Sustainability, Health and Environment, University of the West of England Bristol.

Ymrwymiadau siarad cyhoeddus

Royal Geographic Society-IBG: International Conference (2017) Last night a desk jockey saved wildlife: ecological restoration in the Scottish Highlands London, England

Festival of Science, Economic and Social Research Council (2016) Ecological Restoration: who should pay to put it right? Cardiff, UK.

Sustainable Places Research Institute Seminar Series (2016) Participatory Ecological Restoration: initial findings, Cardiff, UK.

Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia (2016) Social aspects of ecological restoration in the Caledonian Forest, Vancouver, Canada.

School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria (2016) Participatory ecological restoration In Scotland: initial findings, Victoria, Canada.

Advanced Principles and Practice in Ecological Restoration, Galiano Conservancy Association Learning Centre (2016) Hands on restoration in Scotland. Galiano, Canada.

Royal Geographic Society-IBG: International Conference (2015) Ecological restoration in the Anthropocene: What is the place of human values in restoring environments? Exeter, UK.

Society for Ecological Restoration International: Conference (2015) Human values and restoration, Manchester, UK.

New Challenges in Community Forestry: Sharing Scientific Knowledge in a South- North perspective Community Forests and Adaptation to Climate Change in British Columbia, (2013) Remscheid, Germany

British Columbia Community Forest Association Community Forests and their Adaptation to Climate Change, (2012 & 2011) Conference and AGM. Kaslo, BC & 100 Mile House, BC

Pwyllgorau ac adolygu

  • 2015- present School representative to Cardiff University Research Staff Association (CURSA).
  • 2016- present ATHENA Swan Self Assessment team, School of Geography & Planning

External Committees

  • 2016- present Trustee, UNA Exchange
  • 2010-2013 Wales Advisory Group, Coed Cadw - The Woodland Trust










I have taught on a range of under-graduate Human Geography modules at Cardiff University including: 

  • Culture, Space and Place
  • Field Study Visit to New York
  • Citizen Geographies
  • Geography and Environment 
  • Study Skills
  • Contemporary Geographical Ideas

I have taugh on post-graduate modules at Cardiff Univeristy and University of the West of England Bristol including:

  • Creating Sustainable Behaviour Change
  • Communication Campaigns
  • Local Food and Sustainable Development 

My current role is to lead on collaborative research between the Canal & Rivers Trust and the Sustainable Places Research Institute. The present focus is to understand reasons people do not access their local waterway, and how they might be encouraged to do so. It uses a selection of case studies centred on different waterways, using participatory techniques to engage various communities.The research builds on previous work for the Trust to examine the socio-environmental impacts of inland waterways in England and Wales, and develop an framework to measure the outcomes. I am working with the Trust to share this as an example of good practice in tracking impacts on wellbeing.

My background is in geography and social anthropology with an emphasis on environment and sustainability. I am particularly interested in relationships between people and places, and how this affects the wellbeing of individuals and communities. For my PhD I focused on these issues in the context of community gardens. This research used a combination of ethnographic methods including mobile and visual approaches. I am interested in innovative methodologies which enable both people and nonhumans to fully participate in social research, with a focus on plants.

Research projects

  • Canal & River Trust Understanding barriers and motivations to accessing waterways, with Prof. Terry Marsden (Cardiff University), 2015-2017
  • Leicester Young Ecology Adventurers, research partner, with Dr Thomas Smith (Cardiff University), 2017-2019
  • Alliance Homes, Evaluation of Growing Together Project, with Mat Jones (UWE Bristol), 2015-2017
  • Garden Organic – Evaluation of Food Growing Schools London, with Mat Jones and Dr Emma Weitkamp (UWE Bristol), 2014-2017
  • Food for Life Partnership Phase 2 Evaluation, with Prof. Judy Orme and Mat Jones (UWE Bristol), 2014-2015
  • Pembroke 21C Scoping Report for Supporting Sustainable Living, 2011-2012

PhD Supervision

  • Malin Emilia Bäckman, "Connected Learning Spaces: Exploring the transformative potential of experiential learning in the context of higher education for sustainability", SUSPLACE
  • Justyna Prosser, 'Building sustainable rural communities through place-based financial arrangements"



I am interested in supervising PhD students on topics including:

  • knowledge and skills in food systems and production
  • relationships between people and plants
  • community interactions with green and blue spaces

Past projects