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Restoration decision making in the context of limited resources

Department of Environment and Geography

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Prof LC Stringer , Dr RM Pateman No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The UK is failing to meet its long-term biodiversity targets, landscapes continue to be degraded and a significant proportion of protected areas are in unfavourable condition. Restoration can begin to address these issues and is a key component of the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan to better conserve wildlife and habitats, support ecosystem service delivery and mitigate and adapt to climate change. However, resources are limited and government investments in conservation are declining. Not all areas can be restored, and restoration decision-making is further complicated by multiple stakeholders and interests. Top-down processes commonly designate priority sites for restoration, despite the benefits of linking this with a more transparent, replicable, bottom-up, multi-stakeholder approach.

This project will design and deliver an integrated decision support tool (DST) to prioritise areas for restoration in a transparent, open, replicable, scalable way. It will use a mixed methods approach, potentially including biodiversity assessments, Q-methodology, cost-benefit and multi-criteria decision analysis, stakeholder engagement and participatory monitoring, combining desk-based analyses and fieldwork, with a focus on sites in England. The PhD student will develop a nuanced assessment of co-benefits and trade-offs associated with different restoration options across different landscape components, stakeholder groups and over different spatial and temporal scales. The student will draw on top-down scientific assessments and bottom-up stakeholder inputs, extending ideas around the application of conservation triage approaches to ecosystem service conservation in degraded landscapes (Dallimer and Stringer, 2018).

Increasing public concern about climate and biodiversity crises, combined with Government commitments to strengthen environmental policies post-Brexit mean it is vital and timely to develop scalable cost-effective decision processes for environmental restoration if the UK is to meet its environmental goals.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the ACCE NERC Doctoral Training Programme in Ecology and Evolution. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 3.5 years. The funding includes:

Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£15,285 for 2020/21)
UK tuition fees (£4,473 for 2021/22)
Research support and training charges (RSTC)

International candidates (including EU) will be considered however they will need to have adequate funds to meet the difference in tuition fees. International tuition fees for 2021 entry is £22,250.

Not all projects will be funded; a limited number of candidates will be appointed via a competitive process.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing ecology and evolution questions. If English is not your first language, you will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for your country. Please check our website:

START DATE: 1st October 2021
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