Landscape dynamics of regenerating forests: Predicting climate change impacts on carbon-farming projects in Australian Rangelands

Dr Keryn Paul and Dr Stephen Roxburgh


Business Unit: Land and Water

Research Program: Land Management and Sustainable Development

Michael Rooney and Andrew O'Reilly Nugent

Climate Friendly

Dr Daniel Falster and Professor Andy Pitman

UNSW Sydney

Faculty of Science

School of Biological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences

Project Description

Carbon-farming projects that promote natural regeneration in degraded semi-arid landscapes drive changes in landscape condition at huge scales, offering an unparalleled opportunity to answer ecological questions that improve our stewardship of Australian ecosystems while delivering direct economic benefits. Climate Friendly and partners collectively manage more than 4 million hectares of regenerating mulga forests. Intensive monitoring tracks regeneration on individual properties, but synthesising diverse datasets across property, regional, and national scales has proven challenging. Studying regeneration at scale is needed to understand the interactions between climate and landscape condition, and how carbon stored in these landscapes is impacted. Dr Falster (UNSW) has developed a platform for simulating forest ecology, from individuals to meta-populations—the ‘plant’ method. We seek a candidate to apply this framework to study mulga dynamics and answer questions regarding the long-term potential for carbon farming and associated economic risks induced by climate change, particularly changes in seasonal rainfall.

Ideal candidate

The UNSW-CSIRO iPhD program seeks Australian/New Zealand Citizens and Australian Permanent residents with the skills to become future applied research and innovation leaders and a strong motivation to work with and/or in industry. To be considered, applicants must hold a four-year Bachelor's degree with first-class Honours, or an equivalent qualification. 

For this project, the ideal candidate will have a strong interest in biological systems, coupled with demonstrated experience in modelling, either from a mathematical, process-based, or statistical perspective. Experience using any of R, C++, Fortran, Julia, or Python is highly desirable. Knowledge of plant ecosystems, ecology, and the science of climate change is highly desirable. The outcomes of this research will be communicated to land-managers, industry partners, and policy makers. Candidates must therefore demonstrate excellent communication skills and the ability to produce publication-quality writing, both for academic journals and in the context of the carbon-farming industry and policy.

Project Location

UNSW Sydney, Kensington Campus 

Internship Location 

Sydney, NSW

Closing date: