I am a second year PhD student in the UBC Faculty of Forestry supervised by Dr. Jeanine Rhemtulla. My research broadly centers around the benefits (ie, ecosystem services) provided by forests, and how forests change through space and time. 

More specifically, My PhD takes an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the historical dynamics of forested landscapes across BC. My interest to focus on this is peaked by recent and unprecedented natural disturbances (insect outbreak and wildfire), which have impacted 20 million hectares of forests across BC and caused widespread impacts on community health, ecosystem services, and the forest industry. These recent disturbances are unprecedented in terms of size, frequency, and their social impact, and are believed to be driven by a changing climate and past forest management. These recent disturbances fundamentally challenge much of what we understand about forest landscapes and how me need to manage and conserve them through time.

To uncover the historical dynamics in BC forests I am compiling historical datasets on disturbance, ecosystem services, and drivers of these variables across BC, which is a heavily forested mountainous land area roughly one million km2 in size. While some historical data derives from available government geodata, much of it is compiled manually through historical archival maps and documents. This data will provide an empirical lens to identify drivers and consequences of changes across a large landscape from a nearly pre-colonization state through to industrialization and during recent climate change related disturbances. This research will contribute a more nuanced perspective of the complex interactions among factors leading up to current trends and help inform management of forests into the future.  


Sutherland IJ et al. (in review) Local values for ecosystem services: contributions to the land sharing land sparing debate.   

Harker KJ, Gergel SE, Richardson JS, Hanna KS, Sutherland IJ (in review) Opportunities for integrating landscape ecology and ecosystem services principles into environmental impact assessment. 

Lamothe K* and Sutherland IJ* (2018) Intermediate ecosystem services: the origins and meanings of an unsettled concept. International Journal of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Management. 14.1 (2018): 179-187.

Sutherland IJ*, Villamagna AM*, Dallaire CO, Bennett EM, Chin ATM, Yeung ACY, Lamothe KA, Tomscha SA, and Cormier C. (2018) Undervalued and under pressure: a plea for greater attention toward regulating ecosystem services. Ecological Indicators, 94:23-32

Morgan JL, Gergel SE, Ankerson C, Tomscha SA, and Sutherland IJ (2017). Historical Aerial Photographs for Landscape Analysis (Gergel SE and Turner M eds in Learning Landscape Ecology 2nd edition). Springer. New York. Pp 21-40

Sutherland IJ, Bennett EB, and Gergel SE (2016) Recovery trends for multiple ecosystem services reveal non-linear responses and long-term tradeoffs from temperate forest harvesting. Forest Ecology and Management. 374: 61-70

Sutherland IJ, Gergel SE, and Bennett EB (2016). Seeing the forest for its multiple ecosystem services: indicators for cultural services in heterogeneous forests. Ecological Indicators. 71: 123-133

Tomscha S, Sutherland IJ, Renard D, Gergel S, Rhemtulla J, Bennett, E, Daniels L, Eddy I, Clark E. (2016) A guide to historical datasets for reconstructing ecosystem services over time. Bioscience. 66.9: 747-762.

*Indicates shared first authorship

Past Research Projects

Data Consultant at CIFOR                                                             Feb 2017 - April 2017
Bogor, Indonesia

Field coordinator for inventory of the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest
Over an 8-month internship, I helped coordinate and lead the field component of a comprehensive forest inventory. I developed a field sampling design to support forest cover mapping, lidar modelling, and continuous forest inventory projects. I led 11 volunteers over a six months period to measure over 3,000 trees in 67 field plots. The data set created sets the basis for high resolution forest inventory and is used in a wide variety of teaching, research, and forest management applications. 

Masters of Science thesis research at McGill                                                  Sept 2013 - Aug 2015
Montreal, Quebec
My MSc thesis, based at McGill and co supervised by Dr. Elena Bennett (McGill) and Dr. Sarah Gergel (UBC) was based on two quantitative chapters. In the first manuscript chapter (Link), I estimated the long term recovery of a forest’s capacity to provide timber, carbon storage, edible berries, habitat for an endangered sea bird (marbled murrelet), and the large cedar used traditionally by First Nations at Vancouver Island, BC. I estimated the recovery trajectories of these ecosystem services over a 215 year period using generalized additive modelling based on data from a forest chronosequence. See the figure below. 

First thesis manuscript, published in Forest Ecology and Management (link)

In the second chapter (Link), I contrasted the ecosystem services provided by second-growth and old-growth forests in two different ecosystems: a high-productivity riparian forest and a medium-productivity forest located on mountain slopes. I collected the data for the second chapter using field sampling in August 2014 at Clayoquot Sound (see this short film) with help from local First Nations. A key methodology I developed in my thesis and which I use in both chapters is the use of forest stand structural features (eg, trees, logs, understory plants and forest floor thickness) as biophysical indicators to estimate capacity of different ecosystem services. Watch the video below to our field sampling with a First Nations master canoe carver. 

Research Assistant at Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute                   Mar 2013 - July 2013 
Panama City, Panama

Undergrad Research Assistant at the Below-ground Ecology Lab at UBC  May 2012 - Aug 2012
Vancouver, BC

Undergrad directed studies project of the UBC Urban Tree Canopy             Jan 2012 - May 2012
Vancouver, BC