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University of Exeter Business School

Professor Alex Inman

Professor Alex Inman

Professor of Practice (LEEP)


 +44 (0)1392 723340

 Xfi Building LEEP, 1st floor


Xfi Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4ST, UK


Alex is both a practitioner and academic operating within the field of natural resource management; particularly the interaction between agriculture and ecosystem function.  An environmental scientist drawing heavily on social science disciplines to understand human relationships, his work over the years has focussed on technical, policy and institutional factors governing land use and its management.  He joined the University of Exeter in 2016, splitting his time between academic research and his private sector consultancy career with a client base including individual farming businesses, Defra, The Environment Agency, Natural England, Water Companies, WWF, IUCN, The Rivers Trust, CPRE, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority,  East Devon District Council and a number of academic institutions.  Stemming from his belief that farmers must be at the core of land use policy decision making, Alex is founder of the UK Farmer Group Discussion Network, launched in 2018 to provide an opportunity for grass roots members of the farming community to develop an integrated vision for multi-functional landscape in the UK.  He has extensive experience as a facilitator within the context of high tension resource management issues, including chairing meetings in the badger cull pilot areas to clarify matters surrounding scientific uncertainty and cull logistics.

Some major themes in Alex’s research include:

  1. Assessing the theoretical basis and practical opportunities for developing markets for ecosystem services e.g land based carbon markets, biodiversity offsetting schemes, visitor payback schemes.  Alex was asked to peer review Defra’s initial thinking on these markets in 2013 (Defra’s Evidence and Analysis Series Paper “Payments for Ecosystem Services”) and he also contributed research to the Ecosystem Markets Task Force established by the coalition government to assess business led opportunities arising from valuing nature within the economic system
  2. Governance arrangements for integrated land management planning – assessment of the institutional arrangements necessary to facilitate integrated planning and delivery at the landscape scale with a particular emphasis on enabling social learning and cross sectoral participation.  Alex was a member of Defra’s Professional Advisor Group on the roll out of the second cycle of the EU Water Framework Directive in England and helped shape the development of the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) .
  3. Attitudinal and behavioural research with land managers – numerous quantitative and qualitative studies undertaken to better understand the drivers and motivations behind farm management decisions, particularly relating to pro-environmental activity.  This research has also assessed farmer attitudes to multi-generational land management agreements
  4. Consumer food purchasing decision making – quantitative and qualitative attitudinal research exploring food purchasing decisions and the relative importance of environmental and health considerations therein.  Also investigations of the potential for developing local food systems with shorter supply chains 

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Research interests

The scope of my research is largely applied in nature to support the development of sustainable natural resource management policies.  

Research projects

  • Rural Environment and Land Use (RELU) study - a choice modelling exercise to identify farmer WTP (WTA) for delivering multiple ecosystem services from multi generational land management agreements
  • Rural Environment and Land Use (RELU) study - an assessment of the (short-term and long-term) viability of various funding streams to finance land use and management change programmes capable of protecting soil and water resources; including carbon offsetting schemes, charges raised via the Planning System (e.g CIL/Section 106 Agreements), biodiversity offsetting schemes, Landfill Tax Funds, Visitor Payback Schemes and Flood Defence expenditure made by the Environment Agency and Local Authorities
  • Qualitative research with potential peatland carbon investors (client – IUCN Peatland Carbon Programme) - this exercise involved a series of in-depth interviews with CSR Directors from UK based Corporations to assess their attitudes towards investing in Peatland Carbon Code accredited carbon sequestration projects.  This research is quoted on pp19 of Defra’s recent Ecosystem Markets Task Force report.  See
  • Synthesis of food related consumer behaviours - this desk research review provided up-to-date policy relevant evidence on consumer behaviours and attitudes towards food purchasing and consumption in the UK.  The research synthesised evidence on consumer attitudes; behaviours and trends; behavioural determinants; and influencers, intermediaries and interventions.   The project was jointly commissioned by Defra’s Environmental Behaviours Unit, Communications Directorate and The Food Chain Programme
  • Consumer survey to provide insight into attitudes towards food prices and food security - the overall aim of this project was to assess consumer understanding of, and reactions to, changing food prices and food security and to examine the feasibility of developing potential indicators of consumer confidence in the food system.  Involved the design, implementation and analysis of 1000 interviews.  The project was commissioned by Defra’s Food Policy Unit
  • Rural Environment and Land Use (RELU) study - a project to develop a 'catchment management template' providing guidance on the necessary steps to achieve improvements in ecosystem management at the catchment scale, the governance arrangements that will be necessary for this, and a 'tool kit' of techniques for scientific research and for organisational and institutional development
  • Local Food Webs Project - development of a user-friendly environmental impact assessment methodology to enable local food groups to identify the benefits and disbenefits of local food chains.  Part of a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Plunkett Foundation designed to empower communities to connect land and people through food
  • Social Science of Encouraging Water Efficiency - a research programme to pilot and systematically measure the efficacy of various approaches to encouraging efficient use of water in the home.  The project was funded and sponsored by the Environment Agency and the Consumer Council for Water
  • Skills Review of the South West Environmental Technology Sector (client - Exeter University) - a qualitative and quantitative study to assess the skills requirements of employers within Environmental Technology businesses in the South West
  • Survey to quantify the volume and types of waste arisings from land based businesses across the UK (client - Environment Agency and DEFRA) - a large-scale quantitative survey (involving 380 farmers) to assess levels and types of non-natural waste streams (e.g plastics, metals).  The data provided guidance for developing a policy to extend the EU Controlled Waste regulations into the land based sector
  • Survey of Fly-tipping on Agricultural Land in England and Wales - a large-scale quantitative telephone survey to measure the incidence, geographical scope and nature of fly-tipping events in England and Wales.  Data used by the national Fly-tipping Stakeholders Forum (inc. DEFRA and the Environment Agency) to help develop policy instruments to deal with the fly-tipping problem
  • A DEFRA Sustainability Challenge Fund project - a project designed to assess the cost/benefits of various ‘soft’ approaches to bringing about reductions in water usage in residential dwellings.  Involved design and implementation of primary survey research with householder samples, working with two UK water companies to analyse different communications approaches
  • Waste management survey of small-scale food processing business (client – DEFRA) - a large scale quantitative survey of SME businesses within the Food and Drink sector to determine types of waste arisings, methods used to manage wastes and attitudes towards potential waste reduction  approaches.  Data used by DEFRA to help target SME waste reduction R&D programme
  • Currently a core project team member in a 3 year China-UK research programme funded by China-UK Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN) – Project title: ‘Knowledge, policy and practice for sustainable nutrient management and water resources protection in UK and Chinese agro-ecosystems’

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Journal articles

Collier SM, Green SM, Inman A, Hopkins DW, Kendall H, Jahn MM, Dungait JAJ (2021). Effect of farm management on topsoil organic carbon and aggregate stability in water: a case study from Southwest England, UK. Soil Use and Management, 37(1), 49-62. Abstract.
Inman A, Winter DM, Wheeler R, Vrain E, Lovett A, Collins A, Jones I, Johnes P, Cleasby W (2017). An exploration of individual, social and material factors influencing water pollution mitigation behaviours within the farming community. Land Use Policy
Bellarby J, Siciliano G, Smith LED, Xin L, Zhou J, Liu K, Jie L, Meng F, Inman A, Rahn C, et al (2017). Strategies for sustainable nutrient management: insights from a mixed natural and social science analysis of Chinese crop production systems. Environmental Development, 21, 52-65.
Zhang Y, Collins AL, Jones JI, Johnes PJ, Inman A, Freer JE (2017). The potential benefits of on-farm mitigation scenarios for reducing multiple pollutant loadings in prioritised agri-environment areas across England. Environmental Science and Policy, 73, 100-114. Abstract.
Gunton RM, Firbank LG, Inman A, Winter DM (2016). How scalable is sustainable intensification?. Nat Plants, 2(5). Author URL.
Collins AL, Zhang YS, Winter M, Inman A, Jones JI, Johnes PJ, Cleasby W, Vrain E, Lovett A, Noble L, et al (2016). Tackling agricultural diffuse pollution: What might uptake of farmer-preferred measures deliver for emissions to water and air?. Science of the Total Environment, 547, 269-281. Abstract.
Kneafsey M, Dowler E, Lambie-Mumford H, Inman A, Collier R (2013). Consumers and food security: Uncertain or empowered?. Journal of Rural Studies, 29, 101-112.
Cook H, Benson D, Inman A, Jordan A, Smith L (2012). Catchment management groups in England and Wales: Extent, roles and influences. Water and Environment Journal, 26(1), 47-55. Abstract.
Smith L, Inman A, Cherrington R (2012). The potential of land conservation agreements for protection of water resources. Environmental Science and Policy, 24, 92-100. Abstract.
Cook H, Inman A (2012). The voluntary sector and conservation for England: achievements, expanding roles and uncertain future. J Environ Manage, 112, 170-177. Abstract.  Author URL.


Cook H, Benson D, Inman A (2014). Partnering for success in the UK: the West Country Rivers Trust. In Huitema D, Meijerink S (Eds.) The politics of river basin organisations: coalitions, industrial design choices and consequences, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

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