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Matt Hare

Staff picture: Matt Hare
Information and Computational Sciences
Information and Computational Sciences
Social-Ecological Systems Modeller
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


I am a Senior Researcher working in the application areas of :

  • Policy modelling (and the identification of unintended policy outcomes)
  • Habitat restoration - Carbon sequestration - Biodiversity offsetting
  • Natural capital accounting and investment vehicles,
  • Community-and ecosystem-based climate change adaptation, and
  • Food systems.

I do this work, at my desk and - most happily - in the field, by developing and applying novel techniques for:

  • understanding and visualising emergent behaviour in complex systems 
  • participatory, conceptual systems modelling
  • agent-based modelling,
  • action research, and
  • policy analysis (where I can spend a lot of time exploring the minutiae of policy and environmental standards documents and loop-hole hunting).

I am also getting very interested in scientometrics and its application to policy analysis, open science and the science-policy interface. 

Current projects

Recent projects

  • Land-based carbon sequestration options for residual emissions off-setting. (2021-22) Commercial Contract.
  • Peatland restoration for improved water supply in the drinks sector. (2020-22) Commercial contract.
  • Moderating extremes in water availability in Scotland: a review of the role of functioning wetlands. (2020-2022). Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters, CREW.
  • Peatland restoration and potential emssions savings on agricultural land: an evidence assessment (2021). ClimateXChange.
  • Opportunities and Challenges of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) in future food system sustainability. (2019-2020). Hutton Seedcorn Fund
  • Socio-ecological modelling as a support for community- and ecosystems-based adaptation towards sustainability and wellbeing. (2017-2020) MDT Research Fellowship in Socio-Ecological Systems Modelling. Including research in:

    • Upscaling participatory systems modelling processes for the development of the PACMUBIS Climate Action Programme for Wellbeing and Sustainability (2017-2018). Co funded by the Municipality of Tlajomulco de Zuñiga, Mexico.
    • Agent-based modelling of the impacts of different policy levers on the efficacy of UK Biodiversity Offsetting approaches.
    • Exploring the potential impact of model artefacts in Verra's Verfied Carbon Standards (VCS) on the estimation of carbon emissions savings from REDD+ forestry projects.  
    • Foraging as an adaptive capacity in times of extreme crisis - surveying the availability of wild, edible plants in interstitial green spaces in central Mexico City.

Career path

I have worked here before. From 1994 – 1998, at what was then called the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, I did my PhD on the use of symbolic artificial intelligence, machine learning and agent-based simulation approaches for the automated compositional modelling and comparison of different theoretical models of Red Grouse population dynamics and management. I not only got my first bit of field work out in the the glens of Invercauld, I also got to visit the Santa Fe Institute back in its arguably wilder, pioneering days of artificial life and complex systems research. 

Before that, I had gained my bachelor degree in Artifcial Intelligence and Computing at Sussex University which saw me building my first Agent-Based Model as part of my undergrad thesis around about 1990. For those with long memories it was a re-implementation of the Asgard ABM of nomadic and settler behaviour across a heterogeneous landscape using genetic algorithms that had been developed by Sannier and Goodman (1987) for J. J. Grefenstette's book on Genetic Algorithms and their Applications. Following that, I worked at City University on human-computer interface design for intelligent information retrieval. Back in the 90's we thought that getting a machine to automatically complete your search queries was unnecessary meddling in the autonomy of the user! How times change... 

My post-doc was took place at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG-ETH), using participatory (agent-based) modelling techniques to support decision-makers to develop strategies for sustainably managing urban water supplies. 

Following this, I moved to Germany to co-found a start-up enterprise, Seeconsult GmbH, which provided consultancy, research and training support to organizations interested in implementing participatory water resources management in different river basins across Europe, as part of Article 14 obligations of the EU Water Framework Directive. During this time, I worked with stakeholders in river basins across Europe from Scotland in the west to Bulgaria in the East.

In 2008, I took up a job as Senior Programme Officer at the capacity development wing (UNW-DPC) of the UN-Water Decade Programme based at the United Nations in Bonn, Germany. This was to support the implementation of UN capacity development activities seeking to promote, among other things, climate-related adaptive water resources management in developing countries

After this, from 2010 to 2017, I lived and worked in Mexico, providing technical support aimed at the implementation and evaluation of community- and ecosystems-based climate change adaptation projects. I have worked on contract for the Mexican Government and with communities across Mexico. 

Between 2011 and 2013, I also coordinated the EU FP7 CATALYST project (grant no. 283177) entitled “Capacity Development for Hazard Risk Reduction and Adaptation”. I have worked in EU research programmes since Framework 3 in the early 90s! 

I returned to the James Hutton Institute in 2017 where, until 2020, I held the post of Macaulay Development Trust Research Fellow in Socio-Ecological Systems Modelling. One of the highlights was working on the upscaling of participatory systems modelling processes to support the development of a municipality-wide bottom-up plan for climate action for the municipality of Tlajomulco de Zuniga, in Jalisco. 



Printed from /staff/matt-hare on 28/05/23 06:09:45 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.