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PhD Studentship: How Can We Achieve Biodiversity Net Gain? (BOND_UENV20ARIES)

University of East Anglia - School of Environmental Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time, Part Time
Placed On: 7th October 2019
Closes: 7th January 2020

Start date: October 2020  

Studentship length: 3.5 years

Partner: Anglian Water Services Ltd

Supervisor:  Dr Alan Bond (

Project description:  


We live in an era characterised by the global impact of humans on the planet. The biodiversity consequences are well known and it is critical to devise strategies to prevent further biodiversity loss and to maximise the delivery of ecosystem services. ‘Biodiversity offsets’ are a means of delivering compensation for unavoidable biodiversity loss associated with planned development, and are increasingly required through legislation and national or international policies. ‘No net loss’ offsetting delivers a neutral outcome for biodiversity, whereas ‘net gain’ offsetting policies are favoured by many stakeholders.  

However, views on biodiversity offsetting range from outright rejection to qualified acceptance amongst both experts and civil society. This presents significant legitimacy issues for developers, threatening their ‘social license to operate’ (SLO). 


This research will work with Anglian Water as a business case study. Specifically, the objectives are to: 

1) conceptualise net gain based on global policy and practice
2) identify the expectations of different stakeholders, including civil society, of net gain
3) evaluate existing approaches to the delivery of net gain
4) determine how Anglian Water can deliver net gain in their region with minimum risk to their SLO

The student will use Anglian Water’s five-year plan as a case study, along with stakeholder engagement (including interviews) and expert elicitation approaches, to develop an understanding of the legitimacy implications of different conceptualisations of net gain.  Metrics (e.g. value of native and non-native species) will be used to evaluate the biodiversity outcomes of the different conceptualisations.  


Training at UEA (in social science and quantitative data analyses methods) and by the CASE partner (Anglian Water) (e.g. elearning and job shadowing) will be made available to the student. The candidate will acquire and/or strengthen a number of skills including:

  • Expert elicitation;
  • Interview techniques;
  • Prioritization software and functional traits analyses;
  • Metaanalysis, systematic review method. 

Person Specification:  

We seek an enthusiastic, proactive student with a passion for biodiversity conservation and a desire to engage, and work collaboratively, with diverse stakeholders.  

First degree in Natural or Social Sciences. 

Funding notes:   

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, and will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 18/19 February 2020. Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award. Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses in the subject area. For further information, please visit 

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