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KESS2 Scholarship: Investigating the potential of forested lands for natural flood management in Wales.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, January 27, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Natural Flood Management (NFM) utilises natural processes within the landscape to reduce flood risk and is increasingly being viewed as a sustainable, cost effective, and complementary addition to flood defence infrastructure. One NFM measure is to increase the proportion of forested lands within river catchments draining to communities at risk. Tree cover has good potential to reduce flood risk through increased canopy evaporation, enhanced below-ground water storage and slowing the flow of water towards streams. However, the extent to which these mechanisms are superior for forestry, compared to other land uses, remains poorly understood. A major gap in our understanding is related to how forest age, structure and species composition affects the potential role of forested lands in reducing flood risk. This is a key limitation in assessing the utility of forest lands for NFM in Wales, which this project will address.

This project will employ a combination of field work and computer-based modelling. The fieldwork element will be conducted in the Afon Pennal catchment, a tributary of Afon Dyfi in mid Wales, to compare the rainfall interception rates and soil hydraulic properties, including soil water storage capacity and soil moisture deficit, between different types of grassland and forest cover. Fieldwork measurements will be used to develop and validate a canopy interception model, which will then be coupled with a spatially distributed hydrological model to simulate streamflow over the entire catchment for a range of flood return intervals. The coupled model will further be used to provide multi-scenario assessments of the impact of forest land use on flood peak reduction.

The research in this project will help to better quantify and value the flood regulation services of existing forest cover in Wales to inform natural capital accounts and wider assessments of ecosystem services. Results will inform ongoing discussions about the cost-effectiveness of NFM measures and the future development of more targeted and appropriate payments for ecosystem services.


The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a good 2:1 in a relevant degree and be available to take up the studentship by April 2020. Previous experience in hydrological modelling or field based hydrological research is highly desirable. A requirement of the studentship is a 30-day placement per year with the partner company (Forest Research), during the period of the project.

Expected start date: 01/03/2020

Bangor Supervisors: Dr Sopan Patil, Dr Andy Smith, and Prof Morag McDonald

External Supervisors: Dr Tom Nisbet and Mr Huw Thomas (Forest Research).

Interested applicants who wish to discuss the role further can contact Dr Sopan Patil via email ().

To apply for this fully funded post, please email a current CV and covering letter (2 A4 pages maximum) to Dr Sopan Patil () and cc to Penny Dowdney () by 27th January 2020.

Funding Notes

KESS 2 East is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for East Wales.

How good is research at Bangor University in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?
(joint submission with Aberystwyth University)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 18.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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