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EASTBIO: Freeing land and mitigation potential through a shift from high to low meat diets

   School of Biological Sciences

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  Dr Sylvia Vetter, Prof P Smith  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This fully funded, 4-year PhD project is part of a competition funded by the BBSRC EASTBIO Doctoral Training Partnership.

Land is a limited resource on our planet. Productive land and fertile soils are the basis for our food requirements and ensuring food security. The competition for land is even increasing with expected rise in global populations, what will increase the demand for food production. In addition, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions form the food system present one-third of the global GHG emissions from human activities. A major part of emission are produced from agricultural production from crops and livestock. Within the farm gate, agricultural production contributes more than 50% of global methane (CH4) emissions – a GHG with a high global warming potential. Enteric fermentation from ruminants is one process that emits CH4 to the atmosphere, making ruminant meat the highest GHG emitting food product with 4 to 5 times higher emissions then pork and chicken and up to 10 times higher than many plant based products. In addition, livestock production needs land – land for pastures and grazing as well as land to produce the feed that could otherwise be used for food production. Shifting current European diets to a more plant based diet would not only reduce GHG emissions but also free up land, giving the opportunity to implement land-based mitigation strategies for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere.

The PhD project will analyse current land uses and national production data of European countries with the aim to identity regions with high livestock production. Based on different scenarios and considering national healthy diet proposals, the aim is to analyse how much land could be freed through reducing livestock production (and the correlating production of feed) while still achieving food and nutrition security. The potential CDR will be analysed through applying different land based mitigation technologies to increase soil organic carbon (e.g. reforestation, restoration, etc.).

The objectives are to:

1. Identify the regions of high livestock production in European countries, estimate the occupied land as well as the area used for feed production using land use maps and national statistics and analyse the contribution to the national GHG emissions in these countries.

2. Identify the demand and current consumptions of livestock products in European countries and apply national guidelines for healthier and more plant-based diets.

3. Apply the identified diet shifts to the current land uses to estimate the freed land and analyse the mitigation potential



  • Applicants should hold a minimum of a 2:1 UK Honours degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject. Those with a 2:2 UK Honours degree (or international equivalent) may be considered, provided they have (or are expected to achieve) a Distinction or Commendation at master’s level.
  • All students must meet the eligibility criteria as outlined in the UKRI guidance on UK, EU and international candidates. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the UKRI Training Grant Terms and Conditions, esp. TGC 5.2 & Annex B.



  • Please visit this page for full application information: How to apply | eastbio (
  • Please send your completed EASTBIO application form, along with academic transcripts to Alison Innes at: [Email Address Removed]
  • Two references should be provided by the deadline using the EASTBIO reference form. References should be sent to [Email Address Removed]
  • Unfortunately, due to workload constraints, we cannot consider incomplete applications.
  • CV's submitted directly through a FindAPhD enquiry WILL NOT be considered.

Funding Notes

This fully funded, 4-year PhD project is part of a competition funded by the EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership.
This opportunity is open to UK and International students (The proportion of international students appointed through the EASTBIO DTP is capped at 30% by UKRI BBSRC).
EASTBIO studentships includes a UKRI doctoral stipend (estimated at £17,668 for the 2023/2024 academic year), plus a training grant of £5,000 per annum (year 1-3; £1,500 year 4) and a travel/conference grant of £230 per annum.
EASTBIO does not provide funding to cover visa and associated healthcare surcharges for international students.
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