Leah Bremer

Co-Director of the Environmental Policy and Planning Group, UHERO and Water Resources Research Center Assistant Specialist


PhD Geography, 2012 University of California at Santa Barbara – San Diego State University

M.S. Conservation Biology, 2004 Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand-Macquarie University, Australia

B.A. Psychology (Spanish minor), 2001 Northwestern University

Research Interests

Ecosystem services, social-ecological systems, watershed management and conservation, land-use change, water resources.

My work focuses on interdisciplinary, applied, and problem-driven research related to water and watershed policy and management. As a geographer and conservation scientist by training, I view social and environmental challenges and solutions as intricately inter-connected and so work with collaborative teams of researchers, community groups, agencies, non-profits, and others to co-produce knowledge with the goal of informing effective and equitable decision making. My work broadly focuses on three inter-related themes: 1) illuminating the links between people and the environment through various lenses, including ecosystem services, biocultural restoration of agroecological systems, and inclusive valuation; 2) improving land and water management decisions to account for the multiple ways people use and value these resources, including through links to groundwater dependent ecosystems; and 3) critical evaluation of the social and ecological outcomes of ecosystem services policies and programs, including water funds in Latin America, with the goal of improving program effectiveness and equity. In addition to my split appointment with UH Economic Research Organization (Environmental Policy and Planning Group) and the Water Resources Research Center, I am also cooperating faculty with the Department of Geography and Environment, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, and the Biocultural Initiative of the Pacific. I am also a Gund Institute of the Environment affiliate and a research fellow with Fundación Cordillera Tropical, an NGO in Ecuador that I worked with for many years.

Selected Grants

2020-2022 National Science Foundation Coastlines and People. “Identifying multiple values for beaches and coastlines under sea level rise.” (Co-Principal Investigator)

2020-2022 Water Resources Research Center Grant Program. “Linking watershed and groundwater management to groundwater dependent ecosystems and their linked ecological, cultural, and socio-economic values.” (Principal Investigator)

2020-2022 University of Hawai’i Sea Grant College Program. “Enhancing social-ecological resilience and ecosystem services through restoration of coastal agroforestry systems.” (Principal Investigator)

2018-2020 U.S. Department Of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Conservation Innovation Grant. “Restoring ecosystem services and biodiversity through cost-effective and resilient agroforestry systems” (Principal Investigator).

2018-2019 College of Social Sciences Research Support Award. “Restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services through cost-effective and resilient agroforestry systems.” (Principal Investigator).

2018 – 2019 Department of Water Supply, Hawai’i Island. “Spatial prioritization of investments in watershed protection for cost-effective groundwater recharge benefits” (Principal Investigator).

2016-2019 Belmont Forum Mountains as Sentinels of Change “ClimateWise: Climate-Smart Watershed Investments in the Montane Tropics of South America.” (Senior Personnel)

2009-2010 Fulbright Scholarship to Ecuador

2003-2004 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to New Zealand

Selected Publications

Bremer L.L, Hamel P, Ponette-González A.G., Pompeu P V., Saad S I and Brauman K.A. 2020. Who Are we Measuring and Modeling for? Supporting Multilevel Decision-Making in Watershed Management Water Resour. Res. 56 1–17

Hamel P, Bremer L.L, Ponette-González A.G., Acosta E, Fisher J.R.B., Steele B, Cavassani A.T., Klemz C, Blainski E and Brauman K.A. 2020. The value of hydrologic information for watershed management programs: The case of Camboriú, Brazil Sci. Total Environ. 705

Nelson S.H., Bremer L.L, Meza Prado K and Brauman K.A. 2020. The Political Life of Natural Infrastructure: Water Funds and Alternative Histories of Payments for Ecosystem Services in Valle del Cauca, Colombia Dev. Change 51 26–50

Bremer, L.L., Wada, C. Medoff, S., Falinski, K., Burnett, K. 2019. Contributions of native forest protection to water supplies in East Maui. Science of the Total Environment, 688: 1422-1432.

Delevaux, J.M.S., Stamoulis, K.A., Whittier, R., Jupiter, S.D., Bremer, L.L., Friedlander, A., Kurashima, N., Giddens, J., Winter, K., Blaich-Vaughan, M., Burnett, K., Geslani, C., Ticktin T. 2019. Local place-based management can reduce human impacts on coral reefs. Ecological Applications, 29(4):e01891.

Bremer, L.L., Farley, K.A., Demaagd, N., Suárez, E., Tandalla, D.C., Vasco, S., Patricio, T., Vásconez, M., 2019. Biodiversity outcomes of payment for ecosystem services: lessons from páramo grasslands. Biodivers. Conserv. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-019-01700-3.

Brauman, K, Benner, R., Benitez, S., Bremer, L.L. and Vigerstol, K. Water Funds. In: Mandle, L., Ouyang, Z., Salzman, J., Daily, G. 2019. Green Growth That Works: Natural Capital Policy and Finance Mechanisms Around the World. Island Press.

Burnett, K., Ticktin, T., Bremer, L.L., Quazi, S.A., Geslani, C., Wada, C.A., Kurashima, N., Mandle, L., Pascua, P., Depraetere, T., Wolkis, D., Edmonds, M., Giambelluca, T.W., Falinski, K., Winter, K.B. 2019. Restoring to the future: environmental, cultural, and management tradeoffs in historical versus hybrid restoration of a highly modified ecosystem. Conserv. Lett., e12606:110.

Bremer, L.L., Falinski, K., Ching, C., Wada, C., Burnett, K., Kukea-Shultz, K., Reppun, N., Chun, G., Oleson, K., and T. Ticktin. 2018. Biocultural restoration of traditional agriculture: cultural, environmental, and economic outcomes of loʻi restoration in Heʻ​eia, Oʻahu. Sustainability. 10, 4502.

Bremer, L.L., Brauman, K.A., Nelson, S., Meza Prado, K., Wilburn, E., and A.C. Fiorini. Relational values in evaluations of social outcomes of payment for watershed services: a review. 2018. Current Opinions in Environmental Sustainability. 35, 116-123.

Delevaux, J., Winter, K., Jupiter, S., Blaich-Vaughan, M., Stamoulis, K., Bremer, L.L, Burnett, K., Garrod, P., Troller, J. and Ticktin, T., 2018. Linking Land and Sea through Collaborative Research to Inform Contemporary applications of Traditional Resource Management in Hawai‘i. Sustainability, 10(9): 3147.

Delevaux, J.M.S., Jupiter, S.D., Stamoulis, K.A., Bremer, L.L., Wenger, A.S., Dacks, R., Garrod, P., Falinski, K.A., & T. Ticktin. 2018. Scenario planning with linked land-sea models inform where forest conservation actions will promote coral reef resilience. Scientific Reports 8:12465.

Bremer, L. L., L. Mandle, C. Trauernicht, P. Pascua, H. L. McMillen, K. Burnett, C. A. Wada, N. Kurashima, S. Quazi, T. Giambelluca, P. Chock, and T. Ticktin. 2018. Bringing multiple values to the table: assessing future land-use and climate change in North Kona, Hawai’i. Ecology and Society 23(1):33.

Delevaux, J.M.S., Whittier, R, Stamoulis, K.A., Bremer, L.L., Jupiter, S., Friedlander, A.M., et al. 2018. A linked land-sea modeling framework to inform ridge-to-reef management in high oceanic islands. PLoS ONE 13(3): e0193230.

Bremer, L.L., Wada, C., Burnett, K., Medoff, S., Page, J., Lee, S., Allen, S., and Falinki, K. 2018. Economic Valuation of The Nature Conservancy’s Watershed Conservation Activities in Waikamoi Preserve, Maui. UHERO report for The Nature Conservancy of Hawai’i.

Wada, C., Bremer, L.L., Burnett, K., Trauernicht, C., Giambelluca, T., Mandle, L., Parsons, E., Weil, C., Kurashima, N., and T. Ticktin. Farley, K.A. and Bremer L.L. 2017. Estimating cost-effectiveness of dry forest restoration using spatial changes in water yield and landscape flammability under climate change. Pacific Science.

Farley, K. A., and L.L. Bremer. 2017. “Water Is Life”: Local Perceptions of Páramo Grasslands and Land Management Strategies Associated with Payment for Ecosystem Services. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 4452 :1–11.

Game, E. T., Bremer, L.L., Calvache, A., Moreno, P.H. Vargas, A., Rivera, B. and L. M. Rodriguez. 2017. Fuzzy models to inform social and environmental indicator selection for conservation impact monitoring. Conservation Letters.

Vogl, A. L., Goldstein, J.H., Daily, G.C., Vira, B., Bremer, L.L., McDonald, R.I., Shemie, D. Tellman, B., and J. Cassin. 2017. Mainstreaming investments in watershed services to enhance water security: Barriers and opportunities. Environmental Science & Policy 75:19–27.

Abell, R., Asquith, N., Boccaletti, G., Bremer, L. et al. 2017. Beyond the Source: The environmental, economic and community benefits of source water protection. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA.

Bremer, L.L. and K. Meza Prado. Seven Things We Learned By Listening To Those Who Make Water Funds Happen. Cool Green Science 4 August 2017.

Bremer, L.L., Farley, K.A., Chadwick, O.A., and C. P. Harden. 2016. Changes in carbon storage with land management promoted by payment for ecosystem services. Environmental Conservation 43:397–406

Bremer, L.L., Auerbach, D.A., Goldstein, J.H., Vogl, A.L., Shemie, D., Kroeger, T., Nelson, J.L., Benítez, S.P., Calvache, A., Guimarães, J., Herron, C., Higgins, J., Klemz, C., León, J., Sebastián, J., Moreno, P.H., Nuñez, F., Veiga, F., Tiepolo, G., 2016. One size does not fit all: Natural infrastructure investments within the Latin American Water Funds Partnership. 17, Ecosystem Services, 217–236.

Bremer, L.L., Ricketts, T., Manning, R., Trevino, K. New Park Resources. 2016, In: Manning, R., Diamant, R., Mitchell, N., Harmond, D. (eds.). A Thinking Person’s Guide to National Parks. George Braziller Publishers, New York.

Naeem, S. Ingram, J.C., Varga, A., Agardy, T., Barten, P., Bennett, G., Bloomgarden, E., Bremer, L.L. et al. 2015. Getting the Science Right when Paying for Nature’s Services. Science. 347 (6227): 1206-1207.

Bremer, L.L., Delevaux, J., Leary, J.K., Cox, L.J., and Oleson, K.L. 2015. Opportunities and strategies to incorporate ecosystem services knowledge and decision support tools into planning and decision making in Hawaii. Environmental Management. 55(4): 884-899.

Tallis, H., J. Lubchenco + 238 co-signatories (including L.L. Bremer). 2014. Working together: A call for inclusive conservation. Nature. 515, 27-28.

Rosenthal, A., Verutes, G., McKenzie, E., Arkema, K.K., Nirmal, B., Bremer, L.L., Olwero, N. and A.L. Vogl. 2014. Process matters: a framework for conducting decision-relevant assessments of ecosystem services. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services, and Management.

Bremer, L.L., Farley, K.A., and Lopéz-Carr, D. 2014. Conservation and livelihood outcomes of payment for ecosystem services in the Ecuadorian Andes: what is the potential for win-win? Ecosystem Services 8: 148-165.

Bremer, L.L., Farley K.A., and Lopéz-Carr, D. 2014. What factors influence participation in Payment for Ecosystem Services programs? An evaluation of Ecuador’s SocioPáramo program. Land Use Policy, 36:122-133.

Harden, C.P., Hartsig, J., Farley, K.A., Lee, J, and Bremer, L.L. 2013. Effects of land-use change on water in Andean páramo grassland soils. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 103(2): 375-384.

Higgins, J.V. and Zimmerling, A. (Eds). 2013. With contributions from: Bremer, L., Boucher, T., Higgins, J., Kroeger, T.,Leisher, J., and Petry, P. A Primer for Monitoring Water Funds. Arlington, VA: The Nature Conservancy.

Farley K.A., Bremer L.L., Harden C.P. 2012. Changes in carbon storage under alternative land uses in biodiverse Andean grasslands: implications for payment for ecosystem services. Conservation Letters 6(1): 21-27.

Farley K.A., Anderson W.G, Bremer L.L., and Harden C.P. 2011. Compensation for ecosystem services: an evaluation of efforts to achieve conservation and development in Ecuadorian páramo grasslands. Environmental Conservation 38(4): 1-13.

Bremer L.L. and Farley K.A. 2011. Carbon trading. In: Schiffman H, Robbins P (Eds), Green Issues and Debates, Sage Green Series Volume 12. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Farley KA, Bremer L. 2010. Timber plantations. In: Warf, B (Ed), Encyclopedia of Geography. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 2834-2836.

Bremer L, Carr, DL, Farley KA. 2010. Afforestation. In: Mulvaney D, Robbins P (Eds), Green Politics: An A to Z Guide. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Carr, DL, Bremer, L. 2010. Entropy in Agriculture. In: Mulvaney D (Ed), Green Politics. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Bremer L.L. and Farley K.A. 2010. Does plantation forestry restore biodiversity or create green deserts? A synthesis of the effects of land-use transitions on plant species richness. Biodiversity and Conservation 19(14): 3893-3915.

Sumida farm

Incorporating Historical Spring Discharge Protection into Sustainable Groundwater Management: A Case Study from Pearl Harbor Aquifer, Hawai‘i

By Kimberly Burnett, Ahmed Elshall, Christopher Wada, Aida Arik, Aly El-Kadi, Clifford Voss, Jade Delevaux, and Leah Bremer The value of considering a range of …

Watershed Management

Who are we measuring and modeling for? Supporting real-world watershed management

By Leah Bremer and Kate Brauman (In Press at the Global Water Forum) Watershed management programs that promote land management like reforestation, conservation, and lower-intensity grazing to enhance clean …

Identifying priority watershed management areas for groundwater recharge protection on Hawai‘i Island

Identifying priority watershed management areas for groundwater recharge protection on Hawai‘i Island

This report provides an analysis of the relative effectiveness of watershed conservation and restoration efforts in terms of groundwater recharge benefits in Hawaiʻi County Department …