Biosciences: Fully Funded Swansea University PhD Scholarship: peatland restoration

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK tuition fees and an annual stipend
  • 14 September 2021
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Biosciences: Fully Funded Swansea University PhD Scholarship: Carbon impacts of blanket bog afforestation and post-harvest peatland restoration
This scholarship is funded by Swansea University's Department of Biosciences.
Start date: October 2021
Supervisors:

Project description:
2021 saw the formal inclusion of peatlands in the UK GHG emissions inventory, increasing their estimated contribution to national emissions to 3.5% (as opposed to 2.3% reported in the 1990 baseline; BEIS 2021). To begin to tackle these increased emissions figures within the UK Inventory, the Climate Change Committee (2020) set out a recommended pathway for peatlands contribution to a Balanced Net Zero Pathway for the UK, including: all low-productive trees of less than Yield Class 8 (average annual timber growth increment of 8m3 per year per hectare) are removed off peatland by 2030 and all upland peat is restored by 2045.
An estimated 18% of UK peatlands have been converted to forestry (Artz et al 2019). In Wales, Vanguelova et al. (2012) estimated that \~12% of deep peat in Wales is afforested, of which 60% is under coniferous tree cover. Afforested peatlands are a significant source of GHG emissions compared with intact peatlands (9.91 t CO2e ha-1 yr-1; Evans et al 2017); however, there are many evidence gaps in our understanding of the carbon flux from afforesting peatlands, their felling, restoration and subsequent recovery; including what level of restoration is possible in terms of carbon storage and flux, impacts of vegetation composition, plant traits and microtopography as an integrator of processes controlling GHG emissions at forest-to-bog restoration sites (Creevy et al 2020) with a need for evidence from Wales to inform Welsh national policy and practice.
Working in collaboration with the Lost Peatlands of South Wales Heritage Lottery Project and Natural Resources Wales, this PhD will address the impacts of the afforestation of blanket bog habitat, and subsequent felling and restoration interventions, on carbon flux from peatlands in south Wales. The study will include such aspects as:
  • Soil CO2¬†emissions ‚Äď at micro and nano-tope scales
  • Fluvial carbon export ‚Äď (dissolved organic carbon and particulate organic carbon)
  • Peat carbon stores - whole column peat cores and carbon content inventories
  • Determining the standing crop carbon store
  • Measurement of tree root systems in peat - using ground penetrating radar
  • Carbon accounting of felling operations, restoration intervention and recovery

Eligibility

Candidates must have a First, Upper Second Class Honours or a master’s degree with Merit, in a relevant discipline.
For candidates whose first language is not English, we require IELTS 6.5 (with 6.0 in each component) or equivalent. Please visit our website for a list of acceptable English language tests. We prefer candidates to have already met the English Language requirements at the point of application, although this is not a requirement.

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Benefits

This three-year fully funded scholarship covers UK tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,609.

Application

Please visit our website for more information.
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