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Funding Call: SEFARI Fellowship with Rural and Environment Science Analytical Services on Airborne Imaging and Lidar of Scotland’s Assets Pilot and First Scan

Funding Call: SEFARI Fellowship with Rural and Environment Science Analytical Services on Airborne Imaging and Lidar of Scotland’s Assets Pilot and First Scan

SEFARI Gateway is delighted to provide support for a new Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fellowship with the Scottish Government Rural and Environment Science Analytical Services (RESAS) on the development of Airborne Imaging and Lidar of Scotland’s Assets (AILSA).

The main purpose of the Fellowship is to support the development of a business case and associated exploitation plan for Scottish Government funds to be used for the repeated collection and delivery of high-resolution three-dimensional laser scanning (Lidar) and optical imaging of Scotland’s land surface.



A first national mapping would occur over the period 2024-2027, with further surveys over repeated 4-year cycles. This would combine lidar, optical imagery, and precision positioning from GPS generates land classification, point clouds, digital terrain and surface products, which detail the shape and structure of the land surface at 0.1 m resolution across all of Scotland’s land area, coast to coast.

Lidar mapping can resolve individual trees (including their heights and density), habitat structure and connectivity, water bodies and drainage, buildings and infrastructure, transport networks, coastal high-water lines, and micro-topography. Repeat surveys can resolve change over time at unprecedented accuracy and resolution. Change detection will determine across all of Scotland the activity related to construction and development, tree growth and mortality, habitat restoration or loss, peatland states, river channel erosion or deposition, land stability risk, and coastal change. Optical data collected alongside Lidar provides extra information to resolve and distinguish objects and their changes.

Pilot studies completed or planned over two Scottish regions in 2022 (Galloway) and 2023 (Argyll) provide an opportunity to evaluate the information content of AILSA data, and the appetite for data use across Government. These regions include a diversity of topography and land cover.


The SEFARI Fellowship

The Fellowship is an opportunity for an early career researcher to experience leading a novel area for Scottish Government and experience using technology and science to generate evidence for policy for multiple users across the environment and natural resources space.

The successful Fellow will be supported by the Chief Scientific Advisor and Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor ENRA and RESAS Business Support Unit. The Fellow will have direct linkages across relevant Scottish Government Policy areas across Environment and Forestry (EnFor) and Agriculture and Rural Economies (ARE) Directorates, and related agencies including SEPA, Forest and Land Scotland, Scottish Forestry, NatureScot and others.

Funding is to be provided by SEFARI Gateway and this will be available to cover salary costs (up to £36K), travel, accommodation, and subsistence. Support will be given by SEFARI Gateway staff to help access SEFARI resources, link to relevant SEFARI Gateway Knowledge Exchange projects and their partners and RESAS will help with the identification of, and introduction to, further key actors, datasets and relevant platforms.

The details of the final Fellowship work plan will be developed, and agreed, between the Fellow and the management team from SEFARI and RESAS.

The Fellow should expect to spend the equivalent of up to 50 days on the project, although the exact number of days, their timing, and their pattern through the working week will depend on personal circumstances. We anticipate the Fellowship running for a maximum of 12 months.

The deadline for applications to this Fellowship is 5pm on the 9th of June 2023 with interviews to be held within two weeks following from that date.

If you have any questions about this opportunity or the SEFARI Gateway Fellowship scheme in general, please contact SEFARI Gateway Project Manager, Andrew Kelloe:  


Aims of the Fellowship

SEFARI Gateway Fellowships aim to develop shared understanding between the Scottish Government’s ENRA Portfolio researchers and stakeholders and prioritise areas for common effort that could be supported by research knowledge and expertise from within the Strategic Research Portfolio.

The Fellowship will complete the following:

  • Support establishment of project management and governance for the national programme, learning from pilot studies.
  • Set up and co-ordinate the AILSA Steering group for governance and User Group for exploitation.
  • Identify steps, skills, resources (human) to exploit and promulgate use of AILSA primary outputs throughout Scottish Government, SEFARI and AILSA partners.
  • With AILSA User Group and the Digital Directorate:
    • develop a design data management plan and identify wider infrastructure and support which will be needed to exploit the outputs from AILSA.
    • Scope and develop use cases for full AILSA, which will include the demands from ARE, EnFor, and associated agencies and scope the pipelines for turning data into actionable information.

Analysis ready data in the form of georeferenced digital terrain models (below vegetation), digital surface models (above vegetation), and red-green-blue-infrared image layers, will be provided by a contractor. Data collection will cover all of Scotland’s land surface and include full exposed intertidal areas around Scotland’s coasts.

The production of a Case Study is required by SEFARI Gateway during the lifetime of the Fellowship.



Applications should be made to: and should include a cover letter (two pages of detail on your suitability) and a two-page CV. Decisions on who to Interview will be based solely on this letter and your CV. The cover letter should include:

  • Why you are interested in this opportunity and what you would hope to get from it;
  • What skills and experience you would bring to the role;
  • What you would do to take the learning back into your organisation


Further Details 

  • Applicants must have experience of working with remote-sensing and GIS tools, and in project management. Procurement experience is not essential, but it may be advantageous. Mentoring support will be provided from SEFARI and RESAS.
  • Applicants must be staff of SEFARIs, Centres of Expertise, or HEIs across the UK.
  • Applicants must have the support of their organisation. Sign-off should be at the level deemed appropriate for each organisation (please talk to your line manager), but Directors/Chief Executives of your Organisation should be made aware.
  • The taking up of such an opportunity should not result in a candidate going beyond the end of any agreed contract they may have with their employer.
  • It is recognised that individual circumstances are different and support levels will vary depending on salary, distance from the opportunity and so on – the support level will be kept under review to try and maintain a fair and equitable competition and process. The organisation of the successful fellow should not expect to meet any costs beyond that paid for by SEFARI Gateway.
  • The successful candidate(s) will be expected to contribute to relevant meetings or outputs for the project partners as the Fellowship progresses and to generate knowledge exchange related content for SEFARI Gateway (support will be offered on this).
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