Geospatial Scientist

Blue Ventures ( blueventures.org ) is an award-winning marine conservation organisation dedicated to working with local communities to conserve threatened marine environments. Our highly acclaimed conservation programs work with some of Madagascar’s most vulnerable coastal communities to develop conservation and alternative income initiatives to protect biodiversity and livelihoods. The results of our work help us to propose new ideas to benefit coastal communities everywhere.

Project overview: Blue Forests

Madagascar’s 5,600 km coastline comprises the most extensive brackish water, shallow marine and continental shelf habitats of any Indian Ocean country apart from India. These “blue forests” (i.e., seagrass beds, mangrove forests, and coastal wetlands) play crucial roles in supporting endangered biodiversity, and numerous ecosystem goods and services vital to increasingly poor and vulnerable coastal communities. In addition, these ecosystems play a critical role in mitigating global climate change owing to their exceptional capacity to sequester CO2.

Mangroves are extremely productive forested ecosystems and have an extraordinary capacity to sequester carbon dioxide. But these ecosystems are being rapidly destroyed – at a higher rate than terrestrial tropical forests. Madagascar harbours approximately 2,800 km2 of mangroves (Africa’s third largest mangrove forests). These forests are highly threatened by over-exploitation and conversion for cultivation. The Blue Forests project is assessing the feasibility of and working towards developing carbon finance and other payments for ecosystem services (PES) mechanisms for the community-based conservation, restoration and sustainable use of Madagascar’s mangrove forests, which in turn will help maintain critical biodiversity, ecosystem services and essential forest resources. The new VCS Wetlands Restoration and Conservation (WRC) project category now means that there is a real possibility of carbon finance for mangrove wetlands. Our work aims to develop demonstration WRC projects, and so begin to realise the full value of blue carbon habitats.

Position description

Fundamental to this novel and highly topical project is using satellite imagery, together with socioeconomic and biophysical GIS data, to map the distribution of mangrove forests and their carbon stocks, and develop models to quantify the emission reductions achievable through mangrove REDD+. Working under the supervision of our senior geospatial analyst, this position will involve a combination of:

Inventory, acquisition, creation and pre-processing of socio-economic and biophysical GIS data-sets. Design, implementation, supervision; and entering, summarising and analysing data associated with ecological variability surveys and mangrove carbon stock inventories. Production and validation of contemporary and historic satellite-derived mangrove and land-cover maps. Modelling future deforestation scenarios to quantify the emission reductions achievable through mangrove REDD+. Helping to build local capacity by working closely with our Malagasy staff, including a full-time counterpart with a graduate background in remote sensing and GIS. The job will be based in Toliara, but involves frequent and extended stays in remote coastal environments throughout the west coast of Madagascar, particularly in the northwest. Within Blue Ventures you will join a growing and dynamic team of dedicated Malagasy and international scientists, conservationists and community members. The Blue Forests project also has a strong tradition of involving European and Malagasy graduate student interns in our work, including those pursuing degrees associated with remote sensing/GIS. This position is a blend of applied science (e.g., proven RS methods) and new research contributions (e.g., carbon stocks of mangrove soil) and will directly contribute to the development of methodologies specific to marine environments, applicable throughout the tropics. The position offers the opportunity to work within one of the few research groups in the world undertaking this novel, timely and extremely important work.

Qualifications

MSc-level degree (or equivalent) in geography, forestry or other pertinent discipline, with a strong background in remote sensing/GIS of forested environments and considerable experience with remote sensing/GIS theory and application. Experience with entering and analysing data in spreadsheets/data-bases/GIS data-sets. Proficiency in statistical analysis. Experience in scientific report writing and preparation of research papers. Extensive field experience is preferred. Conversational fluency/written abilities in English is mandatory. Conversational fluency/written abilities in French is desired. Dynamic, enthusiastic, hard-working and highly organised. Willingness to live and work in Toliara/relocate to other parts of Madagascar as needed. Willingness to work in remote locations with basic amenities. Willingness to work long hours on a regular basis. Whilst in the field, willingness to work irregular hours and on weekends. Application

Applicants should send a copy of their CV, contact details for three professional referees, and a covering letter to Dr. Trevor Jones at  The closing date for applications will be 15 December 2012. Please list the subject of your email as: Blue Forests geospatial scientist position. All inquiries can also be sent to trevor@blueventures.org.

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