Note: This grant page has been archived and is very likely out of date.

Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry Grants

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: Education / Outreach, Research

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

Degree requirements: Applicants must have a completed PhD


Earthwatch Sustainable Agriculture & Forestry Program

The global human population currently numbers over 7 billion and will reach 8 billion by 2026. Providing food and   forest resources to meet the growing needs of humanity in a rapidly changing world is one of our most urgent  conservation needs. How we manage agricultural systems and forests has tremendous impact on carbon sequestration  and on our ability to maintain ecological resiliency worldwide.  Additionally, developing sustainable agriculture and  forestry practices is essential to ensure availability of the ecosystem services (food and water; flood and disease control;  spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; nutrient cycling) necessary to maintain conditions for life on Earth and to accommodate shifts in resource availability due to global change. 

Managing our agricultural and forestry resources sustainably requires an adaptive approach rooted in best science. To that end, we are seeking research proposals from scientists for projects that will address global change impacts on agriculture and forestry by:

  • Increasing scientific knowledge and public awareness of environmental challenges to sustainable agriculture and forest ecosystems, 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 Sustainable Agriculture & Forest Ecosystems Topics

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

  • Climate change impacts in agriculture and forestry systems on water availability and quality, nutrient flow, maintenance of species diversity, and carbon  sequestration;
  • Keystone species and biodiversity, food web relationships driven by pollinators, apex predators, and herbivores, and  their effects on ecosystem productivity and biodiversity;
  • The effects of anthropogenic land-use and land-cover changes on ecosystem function; 
  • Cooperative sustainable agriculture and forestry strategies;  
  • Development of tools to create and monitor resilience in agriculture and forestry systems, including erosion control, soil conservation and soil health, and weed control;
  • Climate-smart agriculture (food security and  climate change); 
  • Ecologically and socially sustainable production of widely-used commodities such as coffee, tea, chocolate,  wine, and beer;
  • Integration of sustainable agriculture and forest ecology research with local K-12 STEM education, citizen science,  and Traditional Ecological Knowledge programs;
  • Human-wildlife coexistence, including the reduction of conflict between humans and wildlife, the reduction of wildlife damage to crops and forests, and noninvasive pest control; and
  • Ecological restoration, with a focus on repairing the damage humans have done to ecosystems.

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 enable citizen-science participation.
  • Citizen Science Requirements: To fit our citizen-science 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.


  • We strongly encourage graduate student participation in projects as co-PIs as permitted by their  universities.
  • We particularly are interested in helping support emerging scientists from developing nations.
  • We strongly welcome proposals for projects 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, or
    • post-fielding data analysis.