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Exploring a natural capital approach in a UK Estuarine Environment

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  • Full or part time
    Dr C Bowe
    Dr J Kirby
    Dr A Drewitt
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

A fully funded PhD studentship is available at the School of Biological & Environmental Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, supported by the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust (MGET). This multi-disciplinary PhD will aim to use a range of approaches to explore how best to implement a natural capital approach in a UK Estuarine Environment.

DEFRA’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment set the course for the UK to be the first country to take a natural capital approach to environmental policy with the aim to achieving both a healthy environment alongside sustainable economic growth. The plan sets out how we might implement a natural capital approach, through a better understanding of the value of our natural assets and developing mechanisms to increase investment in the natural environment to drive better decision making. Establishing how best to implement the natural capital approach at a local level, for example through local policy mechanisms (i.e. spatial development plans), identifying sources of public and private funds and setting local targets and priorities for investment in natural capital are key to the success of the plan but have yet to be fully explored.

Estuarine habitats are key in terms of the interplay between wildlife, people and industry. They are amongst the most fertile and productive ecosystems in the world. They are economically and socially important and provide a large number of ecosystem services; but also face a various pressures. MGET aims to conserve, protect and improve the environment across 1600 ha of the Upper Mersey Estuary (UME) by establishing management and monitoring with the objective to achieve net environmental gain. The MGET area of interest is therefore an ideal testbed within the Liverpool City Region to test a natural capital approach as well as informing the natural capital agenda nationally and internationally.

The project will explore a number of key topic related to the natural capital approach within an estuarine habitat such as :

• Development of appropriate natural capital baselines and indicators.
• Best practice management interventions for enhancing natural capital.
• Natural Capital governance structures, investment models and stakeholder engagement

This PhD studentship will be co-supervised alongside the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust (MGET). The applicant will benefit from being based within the School’s Environment Research Group ( as well as having links to the Universities cross faculty Institute for Health Research, particularly the multidisciplinary Green Spaces Interest Group ( The student will join an active natural capital research group, within a larger group (approx 25) of postgraduate environmental science researchers. The student will also gain from the support of the MGET. The MGET ( is an independent charity with the vision to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of the Upper Mersey Estuary and related areas for people and wildlife. This includes supporting and engaging in innovative approaches to environmental management across its remit and related areas.

The applicant should have a 2.1 honours degree or above in a relevant subject (i.e. environmental science, geography, ecology or environmental economics). Masters level qualifications and/or evidence of existing peer reviewed publications would be desirable. The candidate will be expected to engage with key stakeholders locally and nationally. Excellent communication skills and the ability to network will therefore be important. Candidates which can show evidence of the ability to work independently will also be favourably considered.

Funding Notes

Only UK & EU citizens can apply for this studentship. Funding will consist of full tuition fees for three years and the award of a living stipend at UK Research Council rates. Funding will be subject to satisfactory progress. £1500 will be provided each year for project consumables.


The PhD will be supervised by Dr Colm Bowe ([email protected]) and Dr Jason Kirby ([email protected]) from the School of Biological & Environmental Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Dr Andrea Drewitt ([email protected]) from the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust (MGET).

For an informal discussion about this opportunity, please email [email protected] for more information.

To apply send a CV (max 2 pages) and covering letter (max 1 page) detailing your suitability for the studentship and contact details of two referees to [email protected] by midnight on Friday 15th November 2019.

Interviews will be held late November/Early December 2019. Expected start date will be between 27th January – 7th February 2020

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