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Alain Krafft
20 août 2018
PhD position in Agricultural and Resource Economics

PhD position in Agricultural and Resource Economics

Land sparing and land sharing scenarios for the greening of intensive landscapes: Integrating yields and farmer income in the evaluation of scenarios and developing Agent Based Models to assess policy interventions

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Division of Bio-economics at KU Leuven (Belgium) is looking for a full-time PhD candidate for 4 years.

The candidate will conduct scientific research within a 4-year project on “Evaluation of land sparing and land sharing scenarios for the greening of intensive apple cultivation landscapes”. The project is multidisciplinary, involving ecologists and agricultural and resource economists.

The Green Revolution has allowed the value of total agricultural output keeping ahead of global population growth rates, at the cost however of environmental quality and biodiversity. The ‘land sharing’ vs. ‘land sparing’ concept provides a heuristic framework to answer the key-question how biodiversity conservation can be optimized while at the same time food production can be sustained, at the scale of entire landscapes. In the highly productive agricultural landscapes of NW Europe, this question realigns on the comparison of the costs and benefits of land sparing (i.e. setting aside nature reserves) vs. a wide range of different land sharing scenarios (i.e. wildlife friendly agriculture) which all are characterized by various degrees and types of agricultural extensification of formerly highly productive farm land.

The general objectives of the research project, that is focused on apple producing landscapes in the Flanders region of Belgium, are to:

(i) Use the land sharing vs. land sparing framework to quantify trade-offs between yield and farmer income on the one side, and biodiversity conservation and Ecosystem Service (ES) provisioning on the other side;

(ii) Use these trade-off functions to parameterize a set of Agent Based Models which can predict the adoption of different land sharing scenarios and their biodiversity and ES provisioning consequences under different policy scenarios, aiming at agricultural extensification.

The candidate will conduct his/her research within the framework of this multidisciplinary project. The specific aims of the PhD research of the selected candidate are to

(i) Survey and quantify yields, farmers’ income, and identify farmer profiles

(ii) Examine tradeoffs between biodiversity components/ES and farmer income/yield

(iii) Generate a set of simple Agent Based Models aimed at evaluating the effect of different policy decisions on the adoption of the greening scenarios, and on their consequences for regional biodiversity and ES provisioning

The candidate will work at the Division of Bio-economics, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven under the promotorship of Prof. Liesbet Vranken and co-promotorship of Prof. Erik Mathijs

Profile of the candidate:

  • A MSc-level university degree in Bioscience Engineering, Geography, Economics or a field of Applied Economics (agricultural economics, natural resource economics, environmental economics);
  • Proficiency in English is a prerequisite, proficiency in Dutch and/or French is an advantage;
  • Experience with household/farm-survey data collection is an advantage;
  • Experience with statistical packages such as STATA, SAS, Limdep, SPSS, R is an advantage.

Our offer:

  • A fully funded PhD scholarship for one year, extendable to 4 years after positive evaluation;
  • Additional benefits in terms of health insurance, reduced public transport prices, free bicycle use, access to university sports facilities, child care opportunities, ….
  • The possibility to follow academic and skills training courses at KU Leuven
  • A dynamic and multi-cultural work environment

Starting date of the position: Autumn 2018, Preferably October 1, 2018

Interested candidates should submit a CV (including research interests, obtained degrees and grades) and a motivation letter to Liesbet Vranken (liesbet.vranken@kuleuven.be) by August 26, 2018.

Only shortlisted applicants will be notified.

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