PhD position, Scaling rangeland restoration in drylands through synergies in the biodiversity – water – climate nexus

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
October 15, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
Working type:N/A
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Department of Forest Ecology and Management

A PhD position is available at the Department of Forest Ecology and Management at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU. SLU has an international character both in terms of research and teaching. The department includes about 100 people of which 11 are professors. Our mission is to advance the understanding of forest ecosystems and how these should be managed today and in the future. For more information: https:// www.

Read more about our benefits and what it is like to work at SLU at https: // www.

Name of research project/thesis

Scaling rangeland restoration in drylands through synergies in the biodiversity – water – climate nexus

Research subject:

Soil Sciences


Drylands cover nearly half of the global land surface, harbor high biodiversity, and support over 2 billion people and half of the world's livestock. Drylands and the livelihoods of the people they support are threatened by the compounding effects of land degradation, biodiversity loss, water insecurity, and climate change. In East Africa, most of these drylands are rangelands that support pastoralist communities and where these challenges are particularly acute. Restoring degraded rangelands is critical to address these interlinked crises and enhance human wellbeing. However, significant knowledge gaps limit effective rangeland restoration at scale. This Ph.D. project will address many of these gaps and generate knowledge on the biodiversity-water-climate nexus that can contribute to large-scale, long- lasting, and effective rangeland restoration in the drylands of East Africa for increased climate change adaptation and mitigation, enhanced biodiversity, and water and food security.

The Ph.D. project will use a combination of available data on soil and land health indicators collected systematically across a network of rangeland sites in the East African drylands and field experiments in four project sites (two in Kenya and two in Uganda). The objectives are to a) Investigate the interactions between vegetation characteristics, soil health, erosion, and water regulation across this network of rangeland sites and identify synergies and trade-offs in the provision of ecosystem services, and b) Test innovative rangeland restoration and management options together with local communities and scaling partners across the four project experimental sites and track their effectiveness.

This PhD project will be part of a larger transdisciplinary research project led by SLU in partnership with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Linköping University, Makerere University, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Stockholm University, University of Nairobi, Vi-Agroforestry, and World Agroforestry (ICRAF). The doctoral candidate will be mentored by an enthusiastic and dynamic team of scientists from SLU and partner institutions spanning a broad range of expertise - including soil science, agroforestry, agroecology, rangeland ecology and management, restoration ecology, and (eco)hydrology – which will support and provide excellent opportunities for scientific discussion and exchange. The candidate will collaborate closely with a postdoctoral researcher who will conduct an integrated regional assessment of rangeland health and explore historical dynamics in rainfall, vegetation, and land degradation and restoration using Earth Observation. The Ph.D. candidate will conduct fieldwork and field experiments, data analysis involving innovative statistical methods, manuscript writing, and contribute to other project activities. The announced Ph.D. position is fully funded for four years, with the expectation that the student will defend their doctoral thesis at the end of this period.



  • MSc degree in a relevant subject (soil science, ecology, hydrology, physical geography or related fields)
  • Experience with data manipulation, analysis, and visualization in R (or other programming languages)
  • Experience with conducting fieldwork
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English
  • Merits:

  • Relevant experience and competence in rangeland ecology, soil hydrology, soil and water conservation, and restoration ecology
  • Relevant experience and knowledge of remote sensing and GIS tools
  • The applicant should have a strong work ethic, an interest in science, and the ambition to work as part of a collaborative research team in an international and interdisciplinary context. Once the eligibility requirements are met, we place great emphasis on other personal and interpersonal skills, such as the ability to work effectively (both collaboratively and independently), organize own work and schedule, adhere to deadlines, and solve problems.

    Place of work:


    Forms for funding or employment:

    Employment as PhD student, full time for 4 years

    Starting date:

    According to agreement.


    Click the “Apply” button to submit your application. The deadline is October 15 2023.

    The application should include:

  • Cover letter presenting yourself and describing your motivation for applying for this position (max. 1 A4 page)
  • CV summarizing education (including date of graduation), work experience, and other merits
  • Contact information for two professional references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail, and phone number). No reference letters need to be submitted with the application
  • Link to or copy of Master thesis
  • List of publications (if any), including reports, scientific articles, popular science, etc.
  • Degree certificates
  • Please note that all documents should be in English. Interviews (online) will be an important part of the appointment process.

    To qualify for third-cycle (Doctoral) courses and study programmes, you must have a second-cycle (Master's) qualification. Alternatively, you must have conducted a minimum of four years of full-time study, of which a minimum of one year at second-cycle level.

    Applicants will be selected based on their written application and CV, degree project, copies of their degree certificate and transcript of records from previous first and second-cycle studies at a university or higher education institution, two personal references, and knowledge of English. More information about the English language requirements can be found here: www. students/english-language-requirements/

    Please note that applicants invited to interview must submit attested copies of their degree certificate, or equivalent, a transcript of records from previous first and second-cycle studies at a university or higher education institution. Applicants who are not Swedish citizens need to submit an attested copy of their passport's information page containing their photograph and personal details.

    Read about the PhD education at SLU at www. courses/doctoral-studies/

    Academic union representatives:

    https: // vid-rekrytering/

    The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) has a key role in the development for sustainable life, based on science and education. Through our focus on the interaction between humans, animals and ecosystems and the responsible use of natural resources, we contribute to sustainable societal development and good living conditions on our planet. Our main campuses are located in Alnarp, Umeå and Uppsala, however, the university also operates at research stations, experimental forests and teaching sites throughout Sweden.

    SLU has around 3,000 employees, 5,000 students and doctoral students and a turnover of over SEK 3 billion. We are investing in attractive environments on all of our campuses. We strive to provide a work environment characterised by inclusivity and gender equality, where different experiences generate conversations between people and pave the way for science, creativity and development. Therefore, we welcome applications from people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

    Contact person

    Aida Bargués Tobella

    [email protected]

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