Why should we plant trees?


Supervisor: Morena Mills

Non-accademic partner: Conservation International

Studentship start date: October 2021

Application deadline: Friday 26 February 2021

Application details: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/pg/apply/how-to-apply/

The studentship will be available full time. The student will need to apply to the Environmental research programme at the Centre for Environmental Policy. For further information please contact the academic lead.

Countries around the world have committed to large scale planting of trees to help mitigate climate change impacts. However, the extent to which these are likely to be achieved and the impact of these large-scale restoration initiatives are yet to be predicted. Participants in forest restoration initiatives experience both costs and benefits associated with restoration activities. While approaches to make restoration more attractive have been suggested, there is little guidance of what approaches work in different socio-ecological systems. There have been numerous successful initiatives focussed on restoring forest and planting trees around the world, for example the Nepal Community Forestry Program that involved approximately 19,000 community forestry groups and the participation of approximately 35% of the population and the Green Belt movement which empowered women and resulted in 51 million trees being planted in Kenya. There has also been large scale restoration of forest as a result of the abandonment of land as a result of rural to urban migration. While multiple theories explain why people engage in different pro-environmental practices and inform opportunities and constraints in implementing conservation or restoration initiatives, a landholder’s engagement with passive or active restoration still needs to be explored. This project seeks to understand and explain the pattern of adoption of restoration initiatives around the world. This project combines quantitative and qualitative research techniques to understand and explain patterns of spread of tree planting interventions. The project has the following phases: (1) synthesis of literature/development of theory describing the drivers of active and passive restoration, (2) description of existing patterns of adoption or restoration initiatives based on existing data, (3) a qualitative understanding of the processes driving the adoption of restoration initiatives and (4) testing hypotheses that explain the adoption of restoration initiatives using spatial-temporal modelling. This project will allow us to identify context-specific factors that shape spatial patterns and temporal trends of adoption of restoration initiatives, so that they can be designed to be more rapidly adopted and have positive impacts for people and nature.