Plant conservation, forestry and fires

Determining the optimal mix of forestry systems and reserves under differing wildfire regimes for improving plant conservation

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

How to meet human needs for timber while limiting harm to biodiversity is an urgent scientific goal. This PhD project will address this challenge by quantifying the impacts of forestry systems and wildfire on plant species. The project will involve field-based plant surveys in a large landscape-ecology study, combined with innovative modelling to quantify the optimal landscape-level combination of logging systems and reserves that best support native plant communities for a given yield of timber.

Sample sites range across a disturbance gradient from unmanaged old-growth and recently fire-impacted sites, through to native forest logging and exotic species timber plantations. This will enable the most comprehensive analysis to date of logging system and wildfire impacts on plant biodiversity. Sophisticated modelling will integrate data on plant species’ frequencies with expected timber yield under the land sparing vs land sharing framework. This paradigm explicitly factors in trade-offs between the site-level intensity of forestry practices and the possible amount of reserves, recognising that best outcomes at site-scale may not hold when considering entire landscapes.

The successful applicant will join the Australian Research Council funded UTAS Forest Sustainability Group, sharing fieldwork and data with PhD students working on other taxa. Fieldwork plans will therefore be aligned to the larger project. The candidate will contribute to other aspects of project conceptualization. There may be opportunities for global collaboration to compile/analyse data to provide a global overview of forestry impacts on plants.

Through close collaboration with land managers, project outcomes will provide a foundation for changes to forest policy and management. The candidate will develop skills in critical thinking, project management, fieldwork, data analysis, writing and communication. The PhD will prepare the student for future careers in research, or with government or non-government land management and conservation agencies.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Greg Jordan


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Excellent written and verbal English and scientific communication skills
  • Fieldwork experience; fit, able, and willing to work in remote field areas, sometimes in challenging conditions and basic living arrangements
  • Current driving licence
  • A good understanding of ecology or conservation biology and interest in contributing to biodiversity conservation
  • Relevant experience conducting plant biodiversity surveys
  • Ability and willingness to both work independently and to collaborate and work effectively as part of an interdisciplinary team, including sharing data, supervising volunteer field assistants and liaising with land management agencies
  • The PhD must be undertaken on a full-time basis

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Proficiency with relevant ecological statistical analyses, e.g. in R
  • Spatial analysis skills (e.g. training in GIS)
  • Previous publication of research in international peer-refereed journals

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Greg Jordan to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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