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PhD scholarship: Understanding the implications of temporal dynamics of Protected Area boundaries and designations for Protected Area-based biodiversity indicators (ESR11)

Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen is offering a PhD scholarship aimed at understanding the implications of temporal dynamics of Protected Area boundaries and designations for Protected Area-based biodiversity indicators. The position will commence on 1 September 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter.  
Description of the scientific environment 
The PhD student will be situated in the Section for Geography as a member of the research group Environment and Society inDeveloping Countries within the Department of Geosciences and Natural ResourceManagement. The research group is interdisciplinary and works on a wide range of issues related to complexities of land use and land cover change, natural resource management, earth observation and societal processes. It is composed of eight permanent scientific staff and more than 25 PhD students and Post Docs. This PhD study will be part of the EU funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) called Inspire4Nature and will include two secondments to the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), a world leader in biodiversity knowledge and the executive agency of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP.  
Project description 
Protected Area coverage is a key indicator for measuring progress towards international policy commitments and is calculated using information from the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). Yet, Protected Areas (PAs) are not static elements in the landscape: they often change in size and shape, management objectives, and the legislation that regulates their level of protection might also change. Understanding the dynamics of PA boundaries and designations – and of the drivers behind these changes, and of their potential effects – is fundamental to develop robust biodiversity indicators and predict future trends to guide policy decisions. This project will build from and further strengthen the WDPA (>230,000 records, 225 countries/territories) by 1) consolidating and standardising historical versions of the WDPA into a temporal database that reflects the dynamic nature of PAs, and using this to develop and test a method for tracking changes in PA coverage in a spatially-explicit way; 2) Assessing implications of the dynamic nature of PAs to global measures of PA coverage and performance; and 3) analysing political, economic and environmental factors explaining variations in the dynamic of PAs across countries. The expected results will provide better estimates of change in Protected Area coverage with time, with direct applications to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Sustainable Development Goals and EU Biodiversity Strategy, enhancement of the value of the WDPA as the key database for the calculation of these indicators, and better understanding of the factors driving PA dynamics across countries. 
Principal supervisor is Professor Ole Mertz, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, E-mail, Direct Phone: 3532 2529. Co-supervisors are Associate Professor Martin Rudbeck Jepsen, E-mail, Direct Phone: 3532 2465 and Head of Programme Protected Areas WCMC, Email:
Job description 
The position is available for a 3-year period and your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE are: 
  • To manage and carry through your research project and participate in network activities under the Inspire4Nature project 
  • Attend PhD courses 
  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis 
  • Teach and disseminate your research 
  • To stay at WCMC, UK, during two secondments, a total of about 11 months 
As part of the EU regulations related to Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks, the following eligibility criteria apply: 
  • At the time of commencement of the PhD study, applicants must not have been awarded a doctorate degree and must be within the first 4 years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers.  
  • Applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Denmark for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. 
Assessment criteria 
Applicants will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria: 
  • An MSc degree or equivalent of relevance to the advertised position with good results 
  • Good English skills 
  • Experience with/knowledge of at least two of the following: (i) Geographical Information Systems (GIS); (ii) quantitative data sets and statistical analysis and; (iii) assessment of drivers of land use change 
  • Experience with/knowledge of Protected Area-based conservation 
Terms of employment  
The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.  
Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.  
The starting salary is currently at a minimum DKK 317,448 including annual supplement (+ pension up to DKK 43,848). Negotiation for salary supplement is possible. 
Application Procedure 
Please read and follow the instructions for application in the Inspire4Nature website. The application, in English, must then be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.  
Please include:  
  • Cover Letter, detailing your motivation and background for applying for this specific PhD project. Please also indicate if you have applied for other Inspire4Nature PhD fellowships (if yes, which) 
  • CV including list of publications 
  • A research proposal of up to two pages describing what you intend to do during the PhD study. It is recommended to make reference to this accepted paper:   
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc) 
  • The Inspire4Nature joint application form, completed and signed. It can be downloaded from here
The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background. 
The deadline for applications is 16 April 2018, 23:59 GMT +2
Only applications that are complete, in English, that respect the instructions above and on the Inspire4Naturewebsite, and that have been submitted before the deadline will be considered eligible. 
Interviews of selected shortlisted candidates will be held on 31 May 2018 between 12.00 and 18.00 GMT +2. 
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee. Afterwards an assessment committee will be appointed to evaluate the selected applications. The applicants will be notified of the composition of the committee and the final selection of a successful candidate will be made by the Head of Department, based on the recommendations of the assessment committee and the interview committee.  
The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above mentioned skills. The successful candidate will then be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD school of Science. You can read more about the recruitment process at  
For specific information about the PhD scholarship, please contact the principal supervisor, Professor Ole Mertz, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, E-mail, Direct Phone: 3532 2529 or co-supervisor is Associate Professor Martin Rudbeck Jepsen, E-mail, Direct Phone: 3532 2465. 
General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at

Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 16-04-2018
Employment start: 01-09-2018
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management

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