The politics and social impacts of market-based conservation


Contact Dr George Holmes to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

In recent years, scholars have explored how conservation projects, particularly national parks, nature reserves and other protected areas, have affected local populations. Conservation projects can increase or decrease the wellbeing of local people, bringing benefits such as increased economic opportunities but also costs such as restricted access to vital natural resources. At the same time, there is a recognition that conservation is changing, particularly with the rise of market-based mechanisms for saving species, such as payments for ecosystem services (e.g. carbon credits) and ecotourism. It is unclear how this move to market-based conservation is changing the kinds of social impacts experienced by local people, whether the kinds and spread of costs and benefits is different for market-based conservation projects than from more traditional approaches. This needs to be engaged with at both a theoretical and an empirical level, particularly through in-depth case studies. Key questions might include: how do market-based and traditional conservation projects attempt to regulate environmentally damaging activities? What kinds of carrot and stick measures are employed? Who wins and loses from both traditional and market-based conservation projects?

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), and/or a Master's degree in Environmental Conservation / Environmental Science / Sustainability / Environment & Development / Geography or related subject. Candidate will ideally have some field experience in a relevant area.

If you would like to be considered for research in this area, you will need to provide a short research proposal.

This should be no longer than 6 pages, plus referencing. You will need to present the proposal in sections including 1) an introduction, 2) short literature review and novelty of the proposed research 3) research problem and questions 4) study area/site, materials and methods, and 5) references. Referencing should be done in the style of a journal related to this research area.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is the ‘The politics and social impacts of market-based conservation' as well as  Dr George Holmes as your proposed supervisor.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office e:, t: +44 (0)113 343 1634.