PhD in wood resources modeling and decision support

This PhD is part of BIOWOOD, a large interdisciplinary R&D project funded by FWO Flanders. The major aim of BioWood is to support the development of a new wood-based value chain in Flanders, focusing on lignin-first biorefinery. Reaching this goal relies on an integration of a sustainable wood supply, a feasible conversion process and high value bio-based products.

This PhD will focus on the sustainable wood supply. Its major scientific challenge is the development of a solid methodology for calculating future wood availability from forests and landscapes in Flanders. Such woody biomass harvest prognosis should acknowledge legal, technical, sustainability and socio-economic limitations, and should include harvest potential of fresh woody biomass from different tree species and gradings.

There are two major aspects of the PhD: First  the Sim4Tree decision support system (DSS) developed by our division (Dalemans et al., 2015[1]) will be further elaborated to include a more dynamic yield model sensitive to climate change and other environmental trends. The use of scaling factors is of particular interest, as scaling factors can be assigned species-specific values, and can be easily combined with state-of-the-art models of forest growth under different management regimes. For the spatial assessment of woody biomass resources from the landscape in Flanders (i.e. also outside forests), existing general purpose land cover and land use maps need to be further refined and integrated in Sim4Tree. The second aspect is the incorporation of the spatio-temporal prognosis of woody biomass availability into the biomass supply supply chain model t-OPTIMASS (De Meyer et al., 2016[2])  in order to come up with optimized supply chain configurations (location of biorefinery and storage and preprocessing facilities) and optimized biomass harvesting regimes.


The PhD position is  part of the larger BIOWOOD-project in which apart from FNL, 4 other reputed research units collaborate. Within FNL, the position is embedded in a team consisting of a senior scientist, an informatician and two professors. . The position comes with a competitive full-time grant and implies the following responsibilities and tasks :

  • Perform the PhD research described above
  • Obtain a certificate of doctoral training according to the rules of the KU Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School (through journal publication, conference participation and coursework) More info on
  • Follow up of the overall BIOWOOD project (project meetings, project reports and project planning) and collaborate with other project members of other disciplines
  • Collaborate with a programmer to develop the DSS
  • Supervise some MSc and BSc dissertations in the framework of the project
  • Give some support to the BSc or Msc training in Bioscience Engineering


The candidate holds an MSc in Forestry, Bioscience engineering or equivalent. We look for a candidate with excellent study results and a strong quantitative background, skills and experience in forest growth modelling (preferably in R) and programming (preferably in C# or other object-oriented language). The candidate is communicative, proficient in written and spoken English and eager to work in a team.

Latest application date:  25 March 2018

Type of Position: 48 month PhD scholarship

Research group: Division Forest, Nature and Landscape (

Contact: Prof. Dr. ir. Bart Muys ( ; Prof. Dr. ir. Jos Van Orshoven (


[1] Dalemans F, Jacxsens P, Van Orshoven J, Kint V, Moonen P, Muys B, 2015. Assisting Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Policy Planning with the Sim4Tree Decision Support System. Forests 6 (4), 859-878, DOI: 10.3390/f6040859 

[2] De Meyer, A., D. Cattrysse and J. Van Orshoven, 2016. Considering biomass growth and regeneration in the optimisation of biomass supply chains. Renewable Energy Vol. 87, Part 2 : 990-1002. doi:10.1016/j.renene.2015.07.043 .

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