PhD opportunity available: UNSW-UNESCO floating mangrove plantation project

Floating mangrove pontoon testingMangroves provide numerous goods and ecosystem services that are beneficial to people, coastal environments, marine and terrestrial biota while providing a globally important sink for carbon. However, mangrove forests are in severe decline in many countries due to legal and illegal clearing. This results in the loss of their range of benefits to society and the environment, including essential shoreline stabilisation and coastal protection services.

About the project

The UNESCO Bangkok Office has demonstrated the feasibility of growing mangroves in floating platforms. Now, in partnership with the UNSW Water Research Laboratory (WRL) and Global Water Institute (GWI), the seaworthiness of deploying floating pontoons for growing and harvesting mangrove forests has been trailed at scale. This PhD research will build on these findings to develop and trial pontoons for floating mangrove plantations while measuring their growth and impact on the surrounding environment.

The proposed floating mangrove pontoons have the potential to deliver a sustainable source of non-freshwater reliant, marine-based forestry while also providing coastal protection through wave attenuation. Coastal protection from waves and storm surges would be increased due to both the floating mangrove pontoon presence and the natural mangrove forests. In low and middle-income countries they would also reduce the need of local communities to cut down actual mangrove forests for fuel wood, thus maintaining these forests for sustainable practices. In high-income countries they offer opportunity for greening the urban landscape. Providing recreational, coastal protection and water cleaning benefits.

The candidate

The successful candidate will play an engaged and interactive role in the WRL, GWI and UNESCO partnership and have both exceptional research and communication skills. The candidate should have a background in either environmental engineering or science and a demonstrated ability or willingness to conduct field work and laboratory testing and analysis. Demonstrated experience in floating structures or coastal management would be beneficial but not required.

The ideal candidate will be curious and possess a demonstrated willingness to apply a breadth of skills in order to answer the research question. They will have the ability to work across scales of investigation and effectively connect results from the field and laboratory to the broader regional and global processes. They will have excelled in previous academic studies in either science or engineering. They will possess a demonstrated ability in and/or a willingness to learn new technical skills and undertake a mixture of field, laboratory and numerical modelling lines of investigation.

For further information

If you have an interest in this project, would like to apply, or have any questions please contact:

Dr Andrew Dansie ( and A/Prof Will Glamore (

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