PhD Position in Earth & Environmental Sciences: "Unlocking the climate change mitigation and adaptation potential of domestic gardens"

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A 4-year PhD position (advisor: Prof. Ben Somers) focused on “Unlocking the climate change mitigation and adaptation potential of domestic gardens” is open at the division Forest, Nature & Landscape, department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (KU Leuven, Belgium).

Gardens are an integral part of the urban green and blue network. In Flanders we have roughly 2.5 million private gardens, together they cover > 12% of the territory (as compared to 10% for forests and <5% for nature conservation areas). Despite their numbers and extent, the potential of gardens for climate change mitigation and adaptation remains underutilized. The main objective of this PhD is to help in realizing this potential through: (i) obtaining timely and reliable data on garden composition, configuration, use and management through an integrated use of novel data acquisition and analysis approaches like remote sensing, deep learning, and citizen science; (ii) strengthening the empirical knowledge base on the link between these garden characteristics and urban climate, by combining remote sensing and autonomous sensor networks; (iii) modeling and analyzing the actual and potential climate mitigation and adaptation impact of the Flemish garden complex; and (iv) based on your analysis provide recommendations to the Flemish government and other stakeholders on climate proof gardening practices and initiatives.

Within the frame of this project you will have the opportunity to closely collaborate with researchers from the Department Earth & Environmental Sciences, Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT) and the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute. Next to that, you will get the opportunity to discuss your results with representatives of public organizations and policy agencies.