PhD Studentship: Assessment of The Outcomes of Biodiversity Offset Projects Under 'No Net Loss' Policy

University of Kent

We seek a highly motivated individual excited by the prospect of conducting cutting-edge research with real-world application. The successful candidate will have an MSc in conservation/ecology/zoology/environmental sciences, strong analytical skills and tropical fieldwork experience. You will need to demonstrate enthusiasm for working collaboratively with social scientists, conservation NGOs and government agencies.

We wish to submit this exciting project to the NERC Environment East Doctoral Training Partnership (EnvEast DTP) Scholarship competition. Reference: (BULL_KDICE18EE) - CASE studentship with Balfour Beatty plc.

Project description

Scientific background

‘Biodiversity offsets’ have been implemented worldwide in response to economic development activities, with the objective of fully compensating for the negative biodiversity impacts associated with development. However, despite their being hugely controversial, there have been almost no empirical assessments concerning the actual nature conservation outcomes of biodiversity offsets on an international scale. The project supervisors have constructed the world’s first global database of implemented biodiversity offsets, which provides an excellent basis for a motivated PhD student to carry out such an empirical study.

Research methodology and travel

The student will combine: (1) biodiversity field surveys of existing offset projects, to provide data that can be analysed using spatial statistics and mapping software; and, (2) structured surveys of individual developers implementing offsets to assess decision-making processes in offsets, and revealed preferences for development in the context of offset policy. The student will draw from empirical research methods in both the natural and social sciences. Alongside fieldwork with the UK CASE partner, we expect the student to spend substantial time abroad, likely within Europe and potentially further afield (examples of countries with established offset policies include Australia, Brazil and China).


The student will necessarily develop truly interdisciplinary research skills, receiving training to do so where necessary. This might include visiting the Supervisory Team Members in Copenhagen for training in survey research methods. The student will also interact with private sector developers including the CASE partner, and so will develop an understanding of the nuances underlying business investment in biodiversity. Finally, the student may have the opportunity to develop or improve language skills for some elements of fieldwork.


Main supervisor: Dr Joseph William Bull (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, DICE)

Professor Richard Griffiths (DICE)
Dr Julia Baker (Balfour Beatty)
Professor Niels Strange (University of Copenhagen)

Further details

  • Start date: 15th September 2018
  • Programme: PhD
  • Mode of study: Full-time
  • Studentship length: 3.5 years
  • £14,533 (2017/18 rate) maintenance grant plus tuition fees at the Home/EU rate

Apply Now

Key dates
Application deadline 23:59 on 8 January 2018
Kent interviews on 19th January 2018
NERV interviews on 12/13th February 2018

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