2 year Interdisciplinary Postdoc available at ETH Zurich to work on the sustainable supply chain of Peruvian Brazil nuts to Switzerland

ETH zurich

ETH Zurich is seeking a highly motivated Postdoc with a background in tropical ecology and an interest in plant reproductive ecology, tropical conservation and non-timber forest product management and trade. This two-year position (funded by ETH Zurich World Food System Center, the Coop Research Program, and the ETH Zurich Foundation) willwork with a team to develop a resilient value supply chain for certified and sustainable Brazil nuts from Peru to consumers in Switzerland. The ideal candidate should therefore have an interest in linking ecological science to adaptive management and sustainable supply chains of Brazil nuts within the global food system. The project will be implemented in collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Essential requirements: A PhD in ecological or environmental science; a strong background in plant reproductive ecology; be an excellent communicator; fluent in both English and Spanish; a proven ability to publish in scientific journals; demonstrated skills of working in an interdisciplinary team; and willingness to spend extended periods in the Madre de Dios region of Perú.

Desirable requirements: Experience working with environmental certification and participatory approaches to natural resource management; good spoken and written German; an interest in communicating science to the general public, training undergraduate students, and developing outreach through multimedia approaches.

We offer: The opportunity to work as part of an international team based at one of the leading environmental science departments in the world on an exciting interdisciplinary project addressing global environmental issues with a very competitive Postdoc salary.

Project start 1st June 2016. For informal enquiries please contact the project PI Chris Kettle: chris.kettle(@)env.ethz.ch, or CIFOR collaborator Dr Manuel Guariguata: M.Guariguata (@) cgiar.org

Deadline for submissions the April 9th 2016 

To apply, please send a letter of motivation and CV to info.em(@)usys.ethz.ch

Project overview: 

Annual exports of Brazil nuts are valued at tens of millions US dollars, but only a fraction are sourced ethically through certification. Forest degradation, as a consequence of unplanned intensive timber harvesting, has potentially negative consequences for Brazil nut production, biodiversity conservation, and climate change. This project will focus on the Madre de Dios region of Peru, which contains 26000 Km2 of the most biologically diverse and carbon dense Brazil nut-rich forest in South America. The aim of this project is to develop a resilient value supply chain for certified and sustainable Brazil nuts from Peru. Despite Brazil nuts’ excellent nutritional and health properties, it remains a peripheral food product in the Swiss market. The project uses an interdisciplinary systems- based approach to: a) provide the scientific basis for the certification of sustainably harvested Brazil nuts through a clear understanding of how habitat degradation influences Brazil nut production; b) understand and reduce the barriers harvesters face to adopt certification (Fairtrade and Organic) of Brazil nuts due to the unpredictable demand, and lack of local capacity; c) raise consumer awareness in Switzerland of the nutritional, environmental and social benefits of certified Brazil nuts to sustain a larger and more resilient supply chain. Through these endeavours we will provide a novel and powerful contribution to the global sustainable food system.