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PhD Studentship: Is Reforestation Delivering a Win-win for Climate and Biodiversity?

University of East Anglia - Biology

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: International Students
Funding amount: please see advert text.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th November 2021
Closes: 19th January 2022
Reference: GILROY_BIO22CDCC

Reforestation is a prominent climate mitigation strategy, exemplified by the Bonn Challenge to restore 350 million hectares of degraded land. Forest regrowth can deliver significant carbon draw-down while offering co-benefits for biodiversity, but also risks negative consequences if the wrong trees are grown in the wrong places.  This studentship will quantify spatial variation in carbon and biodiversity co-benefits and trade-offs of reforestation on a global scale, to identify the most effective regions and mechanisms for future reforestation initiatives. It will address two core objectives:

Objective1: Determine the drivers of variation in carbon and biodiversity outcomes of forest regrowth 

You will use a combination of meta-analysis and geospatial modelling to analyse the co-benefits of reforestation and how these differ between regions. You will conduct the first global meta-analysis of the impacts of recent forest growth on net emissions and biodiversity, using meta-regression techniques to model how co-benefits vary along environmental gradients (e.g. climate/soil conditions), among forest types (plantations versus natural regrowth), and across degradation levels.

Objective2: Quantify the benefits of recent pan-tropical reforestation for carbon sequestration and reduced extinction risk

Using recently-developed pantropical datasets of forest change, you will develop geospatial models to estimate and map how local gains in tropical forest cover have impacted net emissions and biodiversity. Combining spatially-explicit estimates of greenhouse gas flux with models of habitat suitability for wild species (using tropical birds as an indicator group), you will quantify the co-benefits arising from different mechanisms of reforestation and examine how these vary across tropical biomes, pinpointing situations where win-win outcomes are maximised. 

Training: 

The supervisory team will provide one-to-one training in highly transferable skills including advanced data analysis, machine-learning and GIS in R. You will be trained in the theoretical and practical aspects of research, including study design and hypothesis testing, data visualisation, and scientific writing.

Person specification: 

You will have a core interest in applying scientific knowledge to address major global challenges, with a background in climate science, ecology, and/or spatial analysis. You will be keen to develop skills in data science and GIS, and work with interdisciplinary research teams to solve global problems.

Primary Supervisor :  Dr James Gilroy

Start date:

For more information on this project, please visit http://www.uea.ac.uk

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