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PhD - Design of fire-resilient landscapes

Do you have a genuine interest in landscape fires and resilience? And in developing a new integrated fire management model based on social, economic, cultural …

8 maanden geleden


Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur


Do you have a genuine interest in landscape fires and resilience? And in developing a new integrated fire management model based on social, economic, cultural and ecological values?
Are you up for an interdisciplinary challenge, looking and learning beyond your own field and assumptions? With an international team that is inclusive, collaborative, creative and open minded? Then we are looking for you!

The 2018 wildfire season was a glimpse of what to expect in the future: deadly mega-fires in Mediterranean regions and high fire activity in temperate and boreal areas outside the typical Spring fire season. We cannot solve this challenge with the old mono-disciplinary approach of fire suppression: there is a critical need to change fire management from fire resistance to landscape resilience: Living with Fire.

The new Innovative Training Network PyroLife will train the new generation of interdisciplinary experts in integrated fire management, acknowledging that 1) knowledge transfer from southern Europe (and worldwide) to temperate Europe can support the new generation of experts; and 2) fire risk planning, communication and management can learn from cross-risk lessons including temperate European expertise in water management. In doing so, this project combines how the North solves community problems with the fire knowledge of the European South.

We are hiring 15 PhD candidates across Europe and across a range of disciplines, from social sciences and policy to environmental sciences and engineering. We are looking for a diverse group of creative and open minded Early Stage Researchers who are able to link innovative science to society, and communicate with media, stakeholders, and policy makers. These 15 positions are open at 6 universities, 2 research institutes, a foundation and a company across Southern and Northwest Europe: https://pyrolife.lessonsonfire.eu/

PhD Topic description
Room for the River is a proven concept in landscape design for flood-prone areas. This project builds on this strong Dutch expertise to adapt flood-resilient landscape strategies and design principles to fire, with an objective of creating a new and tested Living with Fire guidelines for designing fire-resilient landscapes which balance fire risk reduction and nature management.

In this project, you will be responsible for:

  1. Applying a "research through design" approach to derive alternative ways for zoning and lay-out of landscapes at different scales;
  2. Designing and evaluating various scenarios using spatial fire spread modelling such as Technosylva's WildFireAnalyst model;
  3. Examining case studies in the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, to evaluate the practical application of the concepts;
  4. Using stakeholder participation processes in the designated case studies to design and evaluate accepted landscapes;
To ensure the practical implementation of the resulting guidelines to real landscapes, this work will be carried out in collaboration with Technosylva (Spain) and the Forestry Commission England and will include 2 x 4 months secondments at these institutions

We provide
  • A PhD position in the diverse PyroLife training network together with 14 other PhD candidates;
  • A strong, engaging, collaborative and inclusive network of academics and practitioners;
  • The first doctoral training program on integrated fire management worldwide, with research, collaboration and training focused on understanding fire, risk communication, integration across disciplines, scales, sectors, and countries, and personal development;
  • Research including an applied traineeship that will provide hands-on experience to work with communities located in areas with a high and/or new risk of wildfires;


Specific skills
A highly motived and skilled PhD candidate with:
  • A university degree (MSc) in landscape architecture, landscape design, spatial planning or a related discipline;
  • An experience with practice-based research or research by design or in the design process within an academic context;
  • An affinity with participatory and collaborative approaches;
  • Knowledge of and experience in methods of spatial modelling (e.g. R, Python);
  • Ability to translate spatial modelling into applied solutions through design.
General skills
  • A genuine interest in landscape fire and resilience, and the social, economic, cultural and ecological dimensions involved. Experience with (the management of) fire, forests, water, storms or other risks is appreciated;
  • Ambition to obtain a PhD degree, and become a scientific expert able to convert knowledge and ideas into products and services, for social and economic benefit;
  • Good communication skills and good proficiency in English (both oral and written);
  • Willingness to (learn how to) communicate risk, make inter- and transdisciplinary linkages;
  • Willingness to travel including moving to another country for the PhD project, completing two 4-month secondments in Europe or abroad, and travel to international training courses and any fieldwork;
  • Ability to function as a team member, work independently and take responsibility for own research goals;
  • Meet the mobility and early stage researcher requirements defined for the MSCA-ITN projects.
Mobility and early career requirements
Applicants should comply to the EU rules regarding ITN projects:
(https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/other/guides_for_applicants/h2020-guide-appl-msca-itn_en.pdf). The most important rules are that you should not have a doctoral degree, have obtained your Master degree within the last four years (full-time equivalent research experience) and should not have spent more than 12 months of your time during the last 3 years in The Netherlands.


We offer a full-time position, initially for 18 months after which a go/no go decision will be taken on extension with another 30 months. Gross salary per month € 2.325,-- in the first year, rising to € 2.971,= per month in the fourth year, for a fulltime appointment

  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% fixed-year allowance;
  • Excellent training opportunities and secondary working conditions;
  • Flexible working hours and vacations can in consultation with colleagues be settled so that an optimal balance between work and private is possible;
  • An excellent pension scheme via ABP;
  • 232 holiday hours, the ability to purchase and good supplementary leave arrangements and an individualized model to compose part of your working conditions and a bicycle plan;
  • sports facilities available on the campus;
  • we stimulate internal growth opportunities and mobility with an active and internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a creative learning environment.

Additional information

More details about the role can be obtained by contacting dr. Agnès Patuano, e-mail: agnes.patuano@wur.nl and prof. dr. Martha Bakker, e-mail: martha.bakker@wur.nl

For additional information about the process please contact Edgar Tijhuis, corporate recruiter, e-mail: edgar.tijhuis@wur.nl

You can apply up to and including 5 December 2019, via the apply button on this page. Submit your motivation letter and CV and use the standard template for the motivation letter. You can find the template at https://pyrolife.lessonsonfire.eu/ . The template outlines four topics we expect you to cover, and that also includes a form to show your eligibility for the program in terms of early stage researcher and mobility requirements.

The starting date for this PhD is April 1st 2020