The Sustainable Landscapes Group works at a range of spatial scales using primarily quantitative approaches to address landscape sustainability problems. We use empirical data, modelling, and decision analysis to understand and predict impacts and to assess decision and policy options. We work mainly on the following broad themes:

  • Landscape ecology & ecosystem services

  • Environmental decision-making & policy

  • Monitoring & value of information

Our current PhD and other opportunities are listed below, but we welcome discussion with anyone interested in working with us. If you are interested in working with the group please contact j.rhodes@uq.edu.au.

Available PhD Projects

Note that although PhD Projects are available to both international and domestic students, the current Covid-related border closures in Australia mean that candidates need to already be in Australia to be accepted into the PhD Program.  o

1. Tracking Nature's Contribution to People for Sustainability (fully funded PhD scholarship) 

Project description: The natural world provides enormous benefits to people, with these “ecosystem services” valued at over US$120 trillion per year globally (Costanza et al. 2014). Major benefits include the provision of food and fibre, buffering against extreme weather events, regulation of climate, and mental and physical health. Yet, long-term declines in the stocks of natural assets (e.g. forests) is unsustainable if it leads to long-term declines in the benefits that would otherwise be generated from those natural assets (e.g., trade in forest products). Further, there are often strongly directional flows of ecosystem services among regions (e.g., through trade, tourism, information flows, and movement of species and matter). This can lead to high levels of inequality in benefits to people among regions, further hampering sustainable solutions. A major current research challenge is how we track these aspects to inform the sustainable management of ecosystem services. The United Nations’ System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) is an existing framework that aims to track the benefits generated from nature and how it interacts with the economy. One recent operationalisation of the Ecosystem Accounting component of the SEEA is Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP, Ouyang et al. 2020) -  an indicator analogous to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) used in economic accounts -  but where GEP captures ecosystem benefits. Yet GEP and other recent implementations have primarily focussed on tracking ecosystem service benefits, rather than also capturing the underlying stocks of natural assets. Further, comprehensive ways to track directional flows of ecosystem services and natural assets among regions - analogous to the Balance of Payments used in economic accounts - are currently lacking. These limitations severely hamper the ability to apply the SEEA to assess sustainability and interregional equity in nature’s contribution to people. This PhD project will tackle this important issue by developing implementable approaches to track stocks of natural assets and directional flows among regions within the SEEA framework. This will then be applied to assess long-term sustainability and interregional equity in ecosystem service benefits using two case studies (one from the UK and one from Australia). This work will contribute strongly to global environmental futures through new methods for meaningfully tracking nature’s contribution to people. The successful PhD candidate will benefit from interaction with some of the World’s leading experts in ecosystem services and environmental economics and develop strong conceptual and analytical skills for solving globally important environmental challenges. The candidate will also gain experience working with policy makers and developing skills for translating research outcomes into impact.

Scholarship information: This project comes with a fully funded PhD scholarship through the QUEX Institute (https://global-engagement.uq.edu.au/quex).

How to apply: Apply through the online link under the project "Tracking Nature's Contribution to People for Sustainability" at https://scholarships.uq.edu.au/quex-uq-based-projects.  


Closing date: 24th May 2021. 

Project description: Environmental offsets have become a dominant policy tool for compensating for the environmental impacts of development. There has been considerable attention paid to understanding the environmental consequences of alternative offset policy settings. However, the economic consequences of offset policy settings have been largely ignored. This PhD project will aim to address this gap by better understanding the economic trade-offs with biodiversity and ecosystem service outcomes for offsets.

Scholarship information: The successful candidate will need to obtain a UQ Graduate School Scholarship

How to apply: Send a CV and cover letter explaining why you are interested in this PhD project and why you are a suitable candidate to Jonathan Rhodes (j.rhodes@uq.edu.au).


Closing date: This project will remain open until filled.