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Restoration Ecology Grant

EarthWatch Institute

Grant amount: US $20,000 - US $80,000

Anticipated deadline: The deadline for this grant has passed

Applicant type: Postdoctoral Researcher Faculty Working Professional

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

Degree requirements: Applicants must have a completed PhD


Earthwatch Restoration Ecology Program

Many of the earth’s ecosystems are experiencing unprecedented and extensive environmental degradation and damage. These changes are occurring rapidly, driven by habitat loss caused by human activities, a human population that currently numbers over 7 billion and will reach 8 billion by 2026, and natural disturbances such as wildfires, floods, or volcanic eruptions. Habitat loss is causing biodiversity to plummet globally, leading to local extirpation of species as well as regional extinctions. This decline in biodiversity is causing a decline in the ecosystem services (clean air and water, fertile soil, sustainable food production) essential for the well-being of all life on Earth. By conserving and restoring threatened habitats and the species they contain we can take action to reverse this trend.

Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. It is widely used to reverse the environmental degradation caused by human activities such as deforestation, pollution, and agriculture techniques that cause soil erosion and reduced water quality. Ecological restoration aims to recover a natural range of variation, bringing a system back to its historic trajectory. To succeed as a practice, it must be grounded by best science and the long-term participation of local people. We are seeking research proposals from scientists for projects that will restore degraded ecosystems by:

  • Increasing scientific knowledge and public awareness of environmental challenges to creating resilient ecosystems in a changing world, while providing locally relevant solutions;
  • Increasing partnerships with grassroots organizations, as well as with governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at local and international levels; and
  • Informing management plans and environmental policies.

Focal Restoration Ecology Program Research Topics

We invite proposals for field-based research by qualified scientists on the following topics: 

  • Ecological restoration in urban ecosystems;
  • Climate change impact mitigation;
  • Native plant restoration;
  • Restoration of pollinators and ecosystem engineers;
  • Biodiversity conservation, including native species reintroductions;
  • Restoration of ecosystem productivity;
  • Restoration of food-web functionality, including top-down and bottom-up forces and community-level interactions, rather than taking a single-species approach;
  • Restoration of habitats strongly impacted by climate change (salt marshes, boreal forests, xeric systems, grasslands);
  • Ecological restoration in agricultural systems; and
  • Eradication of non-native species.

Projects begin 2 years after application year (eg, in 2019 for applications submitted in June 2017). Typical annual budgets average between US $20,000–$80,000, with approximately half of the total budget covering volunteer expenses while on the project. 

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • All proposals must be submitted by the PI.
    • All PIs must have a PhD and an affiliation with a university, government agency, or NGO.
  • All proposed projects must have an overarching research theme directly related to global change and enable participation of citizen scientists and community members.
  • Citizen Science requirements: To fit the citizen scientist model, all proposed projects must:
    • Have a 3-year or longer duration (longer-term research may receive priority support);
    • Incorporate field-based research;
    • Have data gathered primarily by citizen-scientist volunteers recruited by Earthwatch;
    • Field 4 to 10 teams per year that span 7 to 14 days, each accommodating 4 to 20 volunteers per team as needed for data collection;
    • Provide housing for volunteers within a reasonable distance from the research site;
    • Be open to graduate, college, and/or high school student participation;
    • Be run in English, with all communications and supporting documents in English;
    • Educate each team of Earthwatch volunteers about the project's science and its relevance; and
    • Share project data with managers and if possible contribute to open-source datasets to maximize the impacts of the project
  • Annual grants cover project expenses while in the field including:
    • equipment (limited),
    • tools, and supplies;
    • research permits;
    • scientist transport to the field;
    • support staff;
    • food and housing for principal investigators, staff, and Earthwatch volunteers.
  • Projects must use best practices, which include assessment, restoration, monitoring, and adaptive management.


  • We strongly encourage graduate student participation in projects as co-PIs as permitted by their universities.
  • we are particularly interested in interdisciplinary proposals and those that involve open-source, shared data.
  • We strongly welcome proposals for project that will improve the livelihoods of human communities and will help develop scientists in emerging nations.


  • We do not currently fund research in any nations and regions listed here.
  • Grants do not cover:

    • scientist salaries,
    • student tuition,
    • overhead,
    • capital equipment, and
    • post-field work data analysis.