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Salt to the earth: Economics and natural sciences for saltmarsh restoration and conservation (BRUNNSCHWEILER_ECO23CDCC)

   School of Economics

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  Dr Christa Brunnschweiler, Dr S Nolte, Dr Tiziana Luisetti  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Saltmarshes are vital blue carbon ecosystems 

Coastal ecosystems are important flood defenses between sea and inland areas, habitats for flora and fauna, and natural carbon sinks. 

This project focuses on UK saltmarshes’ climate change mitigation and adaptation potential. These so-called “blue carbon ecosystems” have been reduced due to land reclamation or in-filling for built development; but they now offer us a lifeline in the face of more frequent extreme weather events and accelerated sea-level rise. Yet the socio-economic opportunities of saltmarshes are poorly understood and can be viewed with scepticism by coastal communities. How can current human behaviour be influenced to support rapid conservation and restoration of saltmarshes? 

What will you do? 

You will use a cutting-edge combination of methods at the interface of environmental sciences, environmental and behavioural economics, with the opportunity to do fieldwork and inform policymakers. You will evaluate saltmarshes’ mitigation and adaptation potential in the UK using available data to assess their ecosystem services (ES) provision and economic value. You will identify potential restoration/conservation sites and investigate stakeholder views regarding saltmarsh ES and land use transformation. You will formulate and test options for ecosystem management and project financing using behavioural methods (e.g. videos with role model interviews), developing transferable methods.  

What opportunities will you get?  

You will join the PhD programme within the School of Economics, become a member of the Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Sciences and the Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, and work with members of the School of Environmental Sciences and Cefas. Doctoral training covers one year of courses in research methods, theory and quantitative skills. You can enrol in other courses and Summer Schools and participate in seminars. Finally, you can draw on your supervisors’ contacts with policymakers and conservation organisations. 

What we are looking for 

We are seeking a candidate with a good MSc in Economics or related disciplines. You should have a strong interest in interdisciplinary research; be comfortable with quantitative and qualitative data; have good interpersonal skills; and be curious about human behaviour and how we interact with our natural environment. 

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Critical Decade for Climate Change programme. For more information about the programme and details of how to apply, please visit  

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please visit the UEA website 

The start date for this project is 1st October 2023.

Funding Notes

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Critical Decade for Climate Change programme, which will award PhD studentship funding from the Leverhulme Trust and UEA’s Faculties of Social Sciences and Science.

Successful candidates will be awarded a PhD studentship that pays tuition fees, a stipend (£17,668 p.a. for 2022/23), and funding to support research costs. Studentship funding is only available to applicants eligible for ‘Home’ fees status, including UK nationals and most EU nationals with ‘settled’ and ‘pre-settled’ status.

Further details of the Critical Decade programme can be found at:


Brunnschweiler, C. and T. Luisetti (2021). Can blue carbon initiatives help conserve mangroves in developing countries? in: D. Rübbelke and A. Markandya (eds.): Climate and Development, World Scientific Series on Environmental, Energy and Climate Economics (WSSEECE), vol. 1, World Scientific.

Brunnschweiler, C., I. Edjekumhene, and P. Lujala (2021), Does information matter? Transparency and demand for accountability in Ghana's natural resource revenue management, Ecological Economics, vol 181.

Mueller, P., N. Ladiges, A. Jack, G. Schmiedl, L. Kutzbach, K. Jensen, and S. Nolte (2019). Assessing the long-term carbon-sequestration potential of the semi-natural salt marshes in the European Wadden Sea. Ecosphere 10(1): e02556. 10.1002/ecs2.2556

Macreadie P. I., et al. including Luisetti T. (2019). The future of Blue Carbon science (2019), Nature Communications, 10. Article n. 3998

Luisetti, T., Ferrini, S., Grilli, G. et al. (2020). Climate action requires new accounting guidance and governance frameworks to manage carbon in shelf seas, Nature Communications 11, 4599.
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