PhD student: Re-wilding forests in Europe

PhD student: Re-wilding forests in Europe

Published Deadline Location
23 Nov 10 Dec Amsterdam

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 10 Dec 2023).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

What are the benefits of more wild forests in Europe? What are the trade-offs? We offer an exciting PhD project analyzing these issues. Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. AMSTERDAM

Job description

The biodiversity crisis requests novel strategies to transform the way we interact with nature. Re-wilding of previously intensive managed land is one of these. Often a focus is put on the development of new nature on former agricultural lands. This project will, in contrast, focus on the potential of re-wilding managed forest areas. The benefits and tradeoffs of such re-wilding of forest areas across many physical and socio-economic dimensions is likely to vary across Europe. The purpose of this PhD project is to assess possible pathways towards re-wilding forest land use in Europe and designing strategies to navigate the associated tradeoffs by spatial planning and targeting of interventions.
Research in this project is 1) to identify likely locations for re-wilding based on scenarios using exploratory land use change models, 2) assess the tradeoffs of alternative forest change trajectories on physical and socio-economic dimensions, 3) optimize target locations for re-wilding and 4) assess the role of a very uncertain future in terms of climate and social changes on these re-wilding pathways.
You will be part of the European project ‘Wildcard’ which bring together European partners in assessing the potential of re-wilding European landscapes. This project is aimed to provide actionable knowledge for EU policy making. You will deploy quantitative and spatial tools, but will additionally work with project partners in a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary way.

Your duties
  • Conduct scientific research and publish this in peer-reviewed journals, the articles building the PhD thesis
  • You contribute to project tasks, in particular in collaborating on assessment methods for the impacts of re-wilding
  • you assist in teaching at BSc and/or MSc level, for example by supervising thesis candidates and guiding tutorials


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • you have a MSc (or equivalent) in Geography, Environmental Sciences, Ecology, or another relevant field
  • you have a keen interest in scientific research and in its applications towards sustainable development
  • you have experience in quantitative spatial analysis; knowledge of spatial modelling is an strong advantage
  • you have good oral and written communication skills in English
  • you are able to collaborate interdisciplinarily with various research communities

Conditions of employment

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,770 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,539 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.


IVM is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognized for its high quality research output in a range of environmental disciplines, as well as for its interdisciplinary work. The mission of the institute is to contribute to sustainable development and care for the environment through scientific research and teaching. IVM aims to do excellent problem-oriented research that is useful to a wide range of stakeholders in the Netherlands and internationally. A unique strength of our research is to understand sustainability problems in their social and economic context. IVM research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Policy Analysis; Environmental Geography; and Water and Climate Risk. IVM is part of the Faculty of Science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ( /ivm ). This position is based within the Environmental Geography department. The Environmental Geography department conducts interdisciplinary research on the spatial aspects of environmental and social challenges and the solutions sustainable land use can provide to these.


  • PhD
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 16579


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

Learn more about this employer


De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you