Dr Chloe Sutcliffe

Chloe’s research quantifies the positive and negative impacts of gardening on the environment. A key output will be an online tool that gardeners can use to calculate their environmental impacts

What do you do?

I collect primary data, using surveys and citizen science, to quantify the environmental impacts of a range of gardening activities, and better understand the drivers and barriers to the uptake of more sustainable practices. I will be assessing impacts in terms of carbon, water and biodiversity, as well as measuring plastic use and waste management.

I am keen to understand gardeners’ perspectives on how we can maximise the positive environmental impacts of our gardening, and hope to involve domestic gardeners in collecting some data at home.

“Gardening provides a unique window for comprehending the key natural cycles that support life on earth. It feels great to work towards building understanding about how we can live in better balance with nature.”

Why is your team’s research important?

We are facing global ecological crises on many fronts, including climate change and biodiversity loss. However, research shows that gardens and green spaces have huge potential to contribute positively to addressing these issues. Gardens can increase our wellbeing and help connect us to nature, as well as enhancing the resilience and stability of the local environment.

The Environmental Horticulture team’s research provides knowledge and understanding to help gardeners ensure their actions constitute part of the solution to the challenges we are collectively facing.

Projects I’m working on now

  • RHS Sustainability fellowship research (2021-2026)

Completed projects

  • Strengthening Thailand’s Agricultural Resilience to drought (STAR), (Newton Fund Project, Cranfield University, 2018-2020)
  • Increasing resilience to water risks in the UK’s fresh fruit and vegetable system (funded by The Global Food Security Programme, Cranfield University, 2016-2020)
  • Biosecurity to stop the spread of Invasive Non-Native Species (NERC Impact accelerator award, Leeds University, 2015)


I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and have co-supervised a number of MSc theses.


  • Goodwin, D, Holman, I, Sutcliffe, C, Salmoral, G, Pardthaisong, L, Visessri, S, Ekkawatpanit, C and Rey, Do (2022) The contribution of a catchment-scale advice network to successful agricultural drought adaptation in Northern Thailand. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, p380
  • Sutcliffe, C, Knox, J and Hess, T (2021) Managing irrigation under pressure: how supply chain demands and environmental objectives drive imbalance in agricultural resilience to water shortages. Agricultural Water Management, p243 (January)
  • Hess, T, Knox, J, Holman, I and Sutcliffe, C (2020) Resilience of primary food production to a changing climate: on-farm responses to water-related risks. Water (Switzerland), 12 (8)
  • Leonardo, E, Dorward, P, Garforth, C, Sutcliffe, C and Van Hulst, F (2020) Conflict-induced displacement as a catalyst for agricultural innovation: Findings from South Sudan. Land Use Policy, 90 (January), article 104272
  • Dorward, P, Osbahr, H, Sutcliffe, C and Mbeche, R (2020) Supporting climate change adaptation using historical climate analysis. Climate and Development, 12 (5)
  • Shannon, C, Quinn, CH, Sutcliffe, C, Stebbing, PD, Dally, T, Glover, A and Dunn, AM (2019) Exploring knowledge, perception of risk and biosecurity practices among researchers in the UK: a quantitative survey. Biological Invasions, 21 (2), pp303-314
  • Sutcliffe, C, Quinn, CH, Shannon, C, Glover, A and Dunn, AM (2018) Exploring the attitudes to and uptake of biosecurity practices for Invasive Non-Native species: views amongst stakeholder organisations working in UK natural environments. Biological Invasions, 20 (2), pp399-411
  • Hess, T and Sutcliffe, C (2018) The exposure of a fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain to global water-related risks. Water International, 43 (6), pp746-761
  • Kassie, GT, Abdulai, A, Greene, WH, Shiferaw, B, Abate, T, Amsal, T and Sutcliffe, C (2017) Modelling preference and willingness to pay for drought tolerance (DT) in maize in rural Zimbabwe. World Development, 94, pp465-477
  • Sutcliffe, C (2017) Market-friendly agricultural development: Implications for seeds and smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa. Outlook On Agriculture, 46 (3), pp165-167
  • Sutcliffe, C, Dougill, AJ and Quinn, CH (2016) Evidence and perceptions of rainfall change in Malawi: Do maize cultivar choices enhance climate change adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa? Regional Environmental Change, 16 (4), pp1215-1224
  • Katengeza, SP, Mangisoni, JH, Kassie, GT, Sutcliffe, C, Langyintuo, A, La Rovere, R and Mwangi, W (2012) Drivers of improved maize variety adoption in drought prone areas of Malawi. Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics, 4 (14), pp393-403

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.