Maxwell Rayner

University of Leicester


Earth Observation and Modelling of Ecosystem Services in the Welland River Catchment


Prof. Heiko Balzter, Dr. Mick Whelan, Dr. Laurence Jones, Prof. Chris Stoate

PhD Summary

Through stakeholder engagement, in partnership with the Welland Rivers Trust, I am to develop future scenarios for land cover / land use change for the Welland Catchment, under different climate trajectories, which will be used to assess the trade-off and synergies of five key ecosystem services (ES). The ES considered will be: • Climate change mitigation • Provision of biodiversity • Agricultural production • Flood prevention • Water quality The scenarios and trade-off analysis will be based on differing policies of land use ranging from increased exploitation and development through to wide scale restoration and protection. Land cover / land use maps will be created using state of the art Sentinel-2 data, whilst the evaluation of ecosystem services will be conducted using InVEST, a suite of open access models developed to enable greater consideration of natural capital in socio-economic decision making. The aim of this project is to provide policy makers and stakeholders with a quantitative way to judge the implications and motivations of various policy choices, therefore enabling more sustainable, informed decisions.

What inspires you

Mornings spent watching and feeding the birds with my Dad as a child as well as family holidays to the uplands of the UK. Since childhood, growing up in the Cambridgeshire Fens, nature was always where I played and relaxed and will always be associated with happy memories.

Previous activity

I taught secondary school geography in London for five years. I left my job at Dulwich College in September 2015 to study for an MSc in Sustainable Management of Natural Resources at the University of Leicester, where I had completed my PGCE 5 years previously.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

Whilst I loved teaching, I wanted to play a more active role in shaping policy and the future direction of environmental conservation and restoration. I saw obtaining my PhD as a vital step in gaining the skills and knowledge required to make this ambition possible.

Why did you choose CENTA?

The track record of the partnership in terms of the number of students it has trained and themes and quality of the research it has produced.

Future plans

I am aiming to develop key skills in research design, analysis and communication that will help in my future career plans. I hope to work in an advisory / research role for one of the key statutory advisors or NGOs concerned with nature conservation.