Dr Mary Hobley studied forestry at Bangor, University of Wales and completed a doctorate at the Australian National University, Canberra in 1990. This doctoral research focused on the political and social dimensions of forest access and control in Nepal. Her work continued in South Asia supporting pioneering approaches to community-based forestry, challenging the power structures that excluded people from their rights to forests and their products. As a research fellow, working with the Rural Development Forestry Network at the Overseas Development Institute, she continued to research and advise on the institutional aspects of forests and livelihood systems including programme and project design for a range of government and non-government organizations. She has continued this work, as an independent consultant, in South and South-East Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Europe, focused on alleviating the conditions that drive poverty and vulnerability in rural areas, through work on natural resource governance, working on the political processes of local government decision-making, and building the voice of citizens. Mary has continued throughout her professional career to work in Nepal, focusing on the multiple drivers of change including migration and now the political processes that underpin the new federal system.
Mary operates from the macro to micro policy level to understand social and political dynamics – including working with households – women and men, community organisations, national governments, local governments, private sector, non-government organisations and civil society. She provides advisory services to bilateral, multilateral donors and NGOs, spanning programme design, appraisal, review, evaluation and policy-related research.
Mary was formerly a trustee of CIFOR. She is currently a trustee for Proforest and also for the Commonwealth Forestry Association, and is a peer reviewer for the International Foundation for Science. From 1996 to 2006 she was a member of the UK DFID Forestry Research Programme Advisory Committee, and a panel member for the Darwin Initiative Expert Committee.