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Postgraduate research project

Facilitating forest restoration to improve sustainability of tropical swidden agriculture

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

One of the global challenges is to achieve food security in the face of an expanding world population. This challenge is particularly relevant to PNG, where 85% of the population depend on swidden agriculture, within the third largest area of tropical forest worldwide. A key part of the swidden agricultural cycle is the fallow period. Due to increased demand for agricultural plots because of population growth, fallow periods are reducing. One approach to adapting to this could be to speed up the ecological processes that take place during the fallow period by facilitating soil and forest restoration. 

This would likely involve: (1) Quantifying biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, particularly below-ground, across a range of ages of fallow plots; (2) Testing novel ways of managing the fallow period to restore ecosystem functioning faster, e.g. soil inoculations or planting cover crops; (3) Investigating whether and which fallow management methods are likely to be adopted by local farmers using socio-ecological surveys; and (4) Given results for (2) and (3), determining which methods of fallow management are most likely to enable plots to be reused successfully after a shorter fallow period.

The student tackling this project will accomplish original science in a tropical ecosystem, alongside delivering feasible adaptations to address a challenge faced by many tropical countries.

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.


  • Becky Morris (University of Southampton)
  • Jake Snaddon (University of Southampton)