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PhD Studentship: Leverhulme ‘Space for Nature’ Doctoral Scholars (PhD) Socioeconomic and Equity Implications of Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures in Community-Managed Forests

University of Kent - Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE)

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Canterbury
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Stipend (equivalent to the Research Councils UK National Minimum Doctoral Stipend; the 2024/25 rate is £19,237, which is not taxed income); tuition fees are covered at the home student rate
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 22nd May 2024
Closes: 25th June 2024
Reference: FNADDICLH201

Project Details: Community-based forest management is seen as an effective conservation strategy while also providing tangible benefits to local communities, and more broadly contributing to global ecosystem services through biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration. Bringing community-managed forests within formal conservation measures is seen as a key pathway to meet the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework Target 3 that seeks to protect 30% of the terrestrial and marine areas by 2030 (30x30 target). This project will focus on community forestry in Nepal, considered among the most successful community-based forest management systems worldwide, to investigate the impacts of formal conservation area designation in community-managed forests.

Based on over three decades of evidence on community forestry, it has been argued that indigenous peoples and local communities have proven that they can conserve nature while sustaining their livelihoods and preserving cultural practices. Furthermore, it is argued that providing these community-managed forests with formal conservation designation, such as under the other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) as part of the 30x30 target, would recognise their contribution to biodiversity contribution and will potentially bring a significant portion of land areas under formal conservation to help meet the global biodiversity target. However, there is still a dearth of research and significant data gaps on the potential implications of bringing community-managed forests under formal conservation designations from socioeconomic, ecological and governance perspectives.

The student will develop an interdisciplinary research project to investigate the potential implications of designating community forests in Nepal as part of 30x30 target. Nepal, being signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), is looking to expand protected area coverage, primarily through other effective conservation measures due to limited appetite for new national park creation. With significant portion of forests under community management, they make an ideal case for conservation area expansion through other effective conservation measures. Some of the key topics the student might investigate include:

  • assessing the suitability of community-managed forests as other effective conservation areas in terms of their biodiversity value and management practices
  • investigating the prospects of equitable benefits to local communities under formal conservation area designation in community-managed forests
  • understanding the potential impacts (synergies or conflicts) of formal conservation area designation on tenure, policy, and institutions of community forestry

The successful candidate will have strong analytical skills and be familiar with community forestry and forest governance institutions and policies in Nepal or in another comparable setting. They will have some fieldwork experience using social and/or ecological research methods and will receive necessary training in methods they are less familiar with.

Scholarship value: The PhD scholarship includes a stipend (equivalent to the Research Councils UK National Minimum Doctoral Stipend; the 2024/25 rate is £19,237, which is not taxed income). Tuition fees are covered at the home student rate. The PhD scholarship comes with a £10,000 research and training fund.

For eligibility criteria and details on how to apply, please see the full advertisement.

For more background information about the Leverhulme ‘Space for Nature’ Doctoral Scholars, please go to the DICE website

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