Restoration of Cumbrian peatlands: Quantifying the carbon benefits of different restoration approaches

Get paid to do a PhD at the University of Cumbria, Institute of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies

Funded PhD linked with Barker & Bland Ltd Limited Ref. No. UoC024
  • Funded PhD starting 1 November 2020.
  • Get paid £1,500 per month tax-free until June 2023.
  • Applications for UK/EU students only – UK/EU tuition fees are paid.
  • Join the Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas, a research centre for the trans-disciplinary study of national park and protected area management – developing sustainable solutions to global challenges.
  • This project is based at the University of Cumbria, at its unique Ambleside Campus located in the heart of the Lake District, the only University campus in the UK located in both a designated National Park and UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Combine world-leading academic research utilising innovative 3D X-ray CT scanning of environmental materials with a key service provider of peatland restoration to address a pressing UK climate change mitigation target.
  • Finish in a strong position to enter a competitive job market in the UK and overseas.

Peatlands are critical carbon stores, key to mitigating impacts of anthropogenic GHG emissions, but have experienced widespread degradation. As part of the Nature for Climate Change Fund, the UK Government has recently committed to restoring ~35,000 ha of peatlands by 2030. However, little is known about the direct and indirect carbon costs/savings associated with different methods of peatland restoration.

Soil and sediment structure exert fundamental controls over physical, hydrological and biogeochemical function. Little is known about how these vary between pristine, degraded and restored peatlands. This project applies 3D X-Ray CT to explore the structure and function in peatlands associated with restoration, to inform enhanced carbon stewardship for restoration schemes, quantifying carbon costs and savings of different approaches. This project will examine the structural properties and function of Cumbrian peatlands, representing pristine, degraded and restored habitats. Working with a leading provider of peatland restoration in the UK (Barker & Bland Ltd), this project offers an exceptional opportunity to connect world-leading research with a key service provider at a time when peatland restoration is emerging as a priority strand within UK climate and environmental policy.

The Research Aim is to understand the impact of sediment structural properties on peatland ecology, hydrology, biogeochemical processes and the resulting carbon sequestration/storage.

The Stakeholder Aim is to use the research findings to design, implement and evaluate new protocols for peatland restoration. This will result in net reduction of both direct and indirect emissions of CO2e from damaged peatlands, loosely estimated for the UK as being ~10m T CO2e per year.This project will explore three main work-packages:

• Hydrological status of degraded and restored peatlands;

• Structure and Function of degraded, pristine and restored peatlands;

• Carbon cost, storage and source evaluation of peatland restoration;

Supervision Team:

• Dr Simon Carr, Dr Andrew Weatherall, Institute of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies, University of Cumbria;

• Dr Jane Barker, Managing Director, Barker & Bland Ltd and Professor of Practice, University of Cumbria.How to Apply:


Deadline: Wednesday 23 September 2020

Interviews: Week commencing 28 September 2020

PhD Start:  1 November 2020

To apply, please email the below documents to:

  • CV (no more than 2 pages)
  • Application Form
  • Application Criteria Form
  • Two references using the Researcher Reference Form
  • PDF scanned copies of the certificates and transcripts (list of degree module grades achieved) for all undergraduate and postgraduate degrees undertaken.

A Research Proposal may be requested from shortlisted applicants.

This project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is subject to confirmation of funding.

Download the application documents