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PhD Scholarship in Sustainable Development in Social dimensions of tree health / Environmental management - Restoration of ‘lost’ tree species and cultural connections: mapping values, attitudes and practices for effective management

   School of Geography and Sustainable Development

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  Dr Mariella Marzano, Dr R White  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Supervisor(s): Dr Mariella Marzano (Forest Research), Dr Rehema White (University of St Andrews), Professor Richard Buggs (Kew Gardens)

Project details

We invite applications from qualified and highly motivated students for a 4-year PhD studentship to investigate the feasibility, acceptability, and value of tree species restoration to different stakeholder groups. We will use the iconic elm as an exemplar case study for restoration of large tree species that are to some extent ‘lost’, but also include reference to other other tree species that we are in the process of losing (e.g. ash) or are threatened by future loss (e.g. oak, Scots pine).

The goal is to understand social acceptability, benefits and risks associated with possible routes to restoration of tree species. Primarily qualitative research methods within a transdisciplinary, cross-institutional project will provide novel theoretical insights and practical recommendations on forest resilience and ecological restoration. Three key themes will be investigated

  • Acceptability – Which species restoration methods are preferred and where? What are the risks and benefits in different contexts?
  • Values, attitudes and experiences - How are treescapes and associated elements valued by stakeholders and wider society? What are stakeholder expectations for restoration success?
  • Decision-making – What form of awareness raising and engagement is required to enable informed, dialogical decision making?

The successful applicant will primarily be based in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, but travel will be required for residencies with the other institutions and for fieldwork.


Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria: 1) An Honours (at least 2.1) and practical experience or a Master’s degree (with distinction or merit) in a relevant degree, including social science; 2) Interest in application of transdisciplinary research to address sustainability challenges; and 3) Desire to work across academic, policy and practice arenas. The University of St Andrews strives for equal opportunities.

Award details

The PhD scholarship will cover: 1) A maintenance grant of approximately £16,000 per year (aligned with NERC rates); 2) A research training support grant (RTSG) of £750 per year; and 3) Full tuition fee at UK or international student rates as required.

The studentship will begin in August or September 2022.

How to apply

Candidates must submit an online application by 30 June 2022. Please see the advice on applying for research degree programmes at: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/apply/postgraduate/research/.

Please apply to the programme “PhD Sustainable Development (Arts)”. Include a:

  • covering letter outlining your interest in the topic and research approach.

Selection process

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed in July 2022 (online).

Supervisor/Contact details

For informal inquiries, please contact Dr Mariella Marzano ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr Rehema White ([Email Address Removed] ). Please include ‘’Tree restoration PhD studentship” in the subject line of your email.

Funding Notes

The project is funded by the Defra supported Centre for Forest Protection, led by Forest Research and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
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