Postdoctoral Researcher – Demand4Restoration: Considering local demand for more effective Restoration in Madagascar


Friday, February 16, 2024

Start Date

Monday, April 1, 2024

The Earth System Science group at the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich asks questions around the co-evolution of social-ecological systems, a fundamental step to place Earth System Sciences in the context of the Anthropocene. Such approach is by necessity interdisciplinary, given the multi-sectorial and complex nature of the problem. The ESS group develops and applies multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to observe, describe, assess drivers, and model the interactions and feedbacks between Earth System spheres and the human system. 

Forests sustain biodiversity, regulate climate, and deliver multiple Nature's Contributions to People (NCPs), making their persistence essential for sustainable development. Past and ongoing exploitation has reduced forest extent and quality in many tropical countries, while profits have largely been exported to the Global North. This has benefitted the economies in the Global North that now recognize the urgency of restoring tropical forests, often with the stated intention to support sustainable development. However, tree-based restoration often ignores current land use, locally demanded NCPs, and local demands towards the practices applied in restoration interventions, especially when focusing solely on carbon goals. 

The aim of the Demand4Restoration project is to systematically integrate restoration demand – which we define as the demand for restoration per se, for restoration at certain locations, for certain types of restoration practices, and for specific-NCPs as demanded by various local, regional, national, and international actors – into restoration science and practice. The Demand4Restoration project is funded through the “Solution-oriented research for Development” (SOR4D) scheme of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

We invite applications for a postdoctoral researcher on the project Demand4Restoration: Considering local demand for more effective Restoration in Madagascar, which is funded by the SOR4D (Solution-oriented Research for Development) from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Your responsibilities

We are looking for an enthusiastic, creative, hardworking and independent researcher with a strong interest in linking science with practice. You will have a central role in the Demand4Restoration project, co-coordinating a transdisciplinary and international team while leading the scientific work in Subproject A of the Demand4Restoration project.

Specifically, you will:

  • Collect data on multiple NCPs on restored and unrestored sites using a mix of plot-based and survey-based methods.
  • Collate date on social- and ecological restoration practices of 30 restoration interventions across Madagascar.
  • Lead research on testing how social- and ecological restoration practices predict social and ecological restoration effectiveness.
  • Contribute to research assessing and mapping restoration demand of multiple actor groups.
  • Play an active role in the coordination and implementation of a medium-sized Solution-oriented Research for Development (SOR4D) project with ten project staff based in Madagascar and Switzerland.

Your profile

  • PhD in Earth System Science, Geography, Environmental Sciences, Forestry, or Ecology.
  • Expertise in one or several of the following areas: land system science, social-ecological systems, restoration ecology, forestry, ecosystem services / NCPs, biodiversity science.
  • Experience in one or several of the following methods: plot-based ecosystem service / NCP inventories, plot-based biodiversity inventories, quantitative interviews, participatory methods, statistical modelling.
  • Advanced data analysis and visualization in R or Python.
  • Capacity and willingness for field data collection with an interdisciplinary team under challenging conditions in rural Madagascar.
  • Scientific curiosity and creativity to examine multifaceted and complex systems problems.
  • An achievement-oriented and open-minded personality with a flair for project coordination and teamwork in international settings.
  • English (Working language is English; knowledge of French and Malagasy would be advantageous).