FOREST- Blending nature-based technology solutions

Website Trinity College Dublin

About the Project
About the Project

FOREST brings together research leaders across Botany, Economics, Engineering, Finance, Geography and Statistics to reimagine our relations with nature. People and nature are not separate – we are dependent on nature as our life support system. The systematic failure of economic, political, and financial systems to take nature into account has resulted in climate and biodiversity crises. Ireland is now seeking to transition away from highly carbon-dependent social and economic practices, towards sustainable practices, systems and behaviours that support the coexistence of flourishing human systems and natural environments.

This project will investigate how to assign value to the natural world to create investment initiatives with ecological benefits, to encourage investors to actively invest in assets with environmental and societal benefits. It will examine the behavioural aspects and financial investment incentives that can be linked to the protection or restoration of forests. However, placing a financial value on nature is not enough to preserve it, there must also be policy initiatives, and stronger legal mechanisms which recognise the multiple benefits of forests such as carbon capture, biodiversity habitat, and recreation. The financial industry is beset by a focus on short term gains, caused by performance metrics, remuneration incentives and incomplete measures of value. Policy supports can to some extent address these market failures by creating incentives which incorporate the long term non-market and socio-cultural benefits of nature.

To examine optimisation of a blended approach, addressing the compatibility of nature-based solutions (long-term forestry) and technological solutions (e.g. solar farms) at different spatial and temporal scales in order to determine options for optimum climate action for Ireland.

To correctly design incentives, an understanding of different perspectives on the values and benefits of nature in the widest sense is key, particularly in terms of impacting on individual and collective action. Actions taken have consequences for environment, people, and economies, but are often only assessed through a single lens. Implementing the right action in the right place urgently requires a new kind of multi-disciplinary dynamic, and a way of integrating data measured on different scales. This research challenge is inherently multidisciplinary in nature and will be conducted in conjunction with researchers across a range of relevant disciplines.

FOREST will use the increase in forestry in Ireland as a model system to explore the challenges associated with addressing climate and biodiversity issues, and examine potential solutions through a multi-disciplinary lens. It will recruit a team of PhD candidates to study as part of an interdisciplinary team to address complex human-nature relations and the social-economic-ecological challenges and opportunities associated with transitioning away from unsustainable to sustainable development pathways.

This project is part of the Kinsella Challenge-Based E3 projects at Trinity College Dublin, and PhD students will have the opportunity to work alongside the other successful projects, particularly in terms of team-building and dissemination events.

Candidate Profile

We are looking for a PhD researcher with a master’s degree in engineering or natural sciences or a relevant area of study. PhD students will work as a team and so excellent team working and communication skills are required.

Email Enquiries name/address: Professor Sarah McCormack (

Application Process

Applications can be made through this link; Apply – E3 – Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies – Trinity College Dublin ( Late applications will not be accepted. Informal enquiries should be made to the primary supervisor. Completed applications should be submitted to via the above link and will require :

1.   A curriculum vitae (including the names of two referees, one of which must be an academic referee).

2.   A cover letter (maximum 1000 words) outlining the applicant’s research interests and why they are suitable for this project.

Applications will be jointly reviewed by project supervisors. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to video-interview. Successful applicants will subsequently apply to register as PhD students through the Trinity College Dublin central portal but must meet all requirements for registration in order to be eligible for this funding award. Postgraduate admission requirements are available here: The successful applicant will be required to provide evidence of English language competence following the award offer and before registering.

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Trinity College Dublin