The Ecosystem Management group at ETH Zurich is offering a two-year postdoctoral research position to explore scenarios for landscape transitions in Scotland within the frame of delivering land-based contributions to national net-zero carbon ambitions. The project includes collaboration with the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and Bangor University in Wales.
This project aims to:
While the position will be based at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, extended periods of field work will be expected in Scotland, and possibly also in Wales, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and Bangor University. The candidate should therefore expect to spend time in both Switzerland and the UK.
Land use and landscape governance provide opportunities to contribute to climate mitigation targets. Such opportunities include changes in forest and agricultural practices, woodland restoration, and peatland rehabilitation. To deliver just transitions that accommodate the interests and needs of a diverse set of stakeholders, such actions need to be negotiated across stakeholder interests, and in full recognition of the multiple trade-offs and conflicts that exist. This requires mechanisms for collective engagement across sectoral interests and social and governance hierarchies.
This project, to be implemented primarily in Scotland and possibly extended to Wales, will integrate different interpretations of, and aspirations for, current and future landscapes (Objective 1) with ecological knowledge (Objective 2) to construct participatory models (Objective 3) by which stakeholders can collaboratively design, test, and evaluate options for landscape transitions.
We will use the Companion Modelling approach and will draw on extensive ecological models and databases to construct participatory modelling platforms in the form of strategy games to elicit and explore scenarios of landscape change. Such scenarios will additionally be framed by the proposed policy, governance, and financing concepts.
The broader context is the delivery of net-zero carbon futures through land-based approaches, and specifically through the management of upland landscapes in Scotland and Wales. The upland regions of the UK offer the best prospects for forest establishment (for timber production, ecosystem service provision, and biodiversity), but also include extensive areas of carbon-rich peatlands, and a variety of other land use interests including hill farming and sporting and recreational activities. Trade-offs among these different land use provide a complex and challenging arena for deliberation, but one that is also rich in opportunities for developing integrated and participatory landscape visioning and planning processes.
The project will draw on natural and social science approaches to interpret and negotiate possible futures through participatory modelling. We will integrate existing datasets and process-based models with social knowledge to design and build interactive participatory landscape models that allow strategies toward desired futures to be explored, evaluated, and negotiated across a range of stakeholder interests. Using these approaches, we will test different hypothetical interventions (e.g., policies, financial structures, or management propositions), and will visualise outcomes that result from the behaviours and decisions of participating stakeholders.
Working across broad stakeholder representation, the project will build and apply deliberative platforms that facilitate the emergence of negotiated solutions for future landscape transitions, while generating new knowledge on the functioning of socio-ecological upland landscapes.
You will be responsible for working with a range of land and policy actors to develop interactive and participatory 'strategic game' models by which to test scenarios of landscape change. This will entail integrating ecological dynamics with social and economic dynamics. Ecological dynamics will be synthesised by drawing on information from published literature. Social and economic values will be derived through interviews and the application of Q-sort approaches and/or Agent-Based Modelling. This information will be used to build interactive strategic games using the Companion Modelling approach for participatory scenario testing (if necessary, training in Companion Modelling will be provided).
The postdoc will be responsible for implementing the research and managing the logistics for the project. This includes researching to build the strategic game models and the implementation of the strategic games in at least two regions in Scotland with a variety of stakeholders. The successful applicant will also be expected to lead the writing and publication of the scientific outputs, and for engaging with policymakers and relevant private sector, and governmental and non-governmental agencies, to communicate outcomes and conclusions. The postdoc will be supported by an advisory team in Zurich (Jaboury Ghazoul and Anne Dray), Edinburgh (Marc Metzger), and Bangor (Sophie Wynne-Jones and John Healey).
Other duties would include contributing to group activities and some teaching support, though this would be subject to discussion and agreement.
The following attributes, qualifications, and experience are expected:
We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:
The deadline for applications is 31 October 2022. We anticipate conducting interviews in mid- to late November. We expect the successful candidate will be in position by 1 January 2023, or as soon as possible thereafter.
Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.
Further information about the Ecosystem Management group can be found on our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Professor Jaboury Ghazoul, email firstname.lastname@example.org (no applications).
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