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ASI Research Cluster Biodiversity and Landscape Change

The cluster aims to connect VU researchers and other stakeholders (e.g. societal stakeholders such as nature organisations, land-users, retail, governments, municipalities and citizen communities) that are interested in learning about how to restore biodiversity and essential ecosystem services to improve landscape sustainability.

Over the last decades biodiversity has declined sharply due to land-use intensification, urban development and climate change. In addition to biodiversity loss, intensive land use has resulted in soil subsidence, eutrophication, land, water and air-pollution and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Key to improvement lies in increasing the sustainability of current activities, implying a transformation to a form of land use that leads to biodiversity restoration, halts soil degradation, maintains profitable business operations for landowners and creates an inspiring landscape for citizens. 

Landscape transitions can only be achieved via a close collaboration of scientists, landowners (nature managers and farmers), citizens and other stakeholders, with the aim to apply interventions in the landscape that are effective to restore biodiversity and essential ecosystem functions and services, including rewilding.

Current publications: 

More information: 

Our cluster aims to bring together a group of VU researchers and external stakeholders and

  • contributes new knowledge through integration and analysis of existing and new biodiversity and ecosystem (services) data;
  • links ecological and socio-economic systems by assessing both existing and alternative business models of key actors in the land use value-chain, with explicit roles for payments based on biodiversity and ecosystem services from market and society;
  • organises all of its activities using a Living Lab kind of structure, with Responsible Research & Innovation and citizen and stakeholder involvement as core values. Through this approach the wide variety of societal partners are explicitly involved in all project stages, and impacts of cooperation and use of findings in practice are maximised. Living Labs ultimately need to be up-scaled in the current decade;
  • links the relevant policy areas and scientific disciplines to existing practice and current initiatives in the region, and contributes to the Delta Plan on Biodiversity (the Netherlands)
  • exchanges lessons learned from multi-stakeholder co-creation and action for other projects with a Living Lab approach;
  • explore past and present entanglements of nature and culture and find alternative ways of imagining out interactions with the environment;
  • collect, bundle and learn from national and international funded research projects at VU that are strongly linked to biodiversity improvement and landscape change.

Our mission aligns to the profile themes ‘Science for Sustainability’ and ‘Connected World’ of the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, in which sustainable development involves achieving an ideal balance between ecology (planet), social concerns (people), and economic interests (profit). We take into account the influence of globalization on ecological, human, cultural, economic and political relationships relating to landscape change. We pursue pioneering research, both within and across disciplines. 

Our network and research

Our network and research

Landscape change and biodiversity improvement needs the support of a large array of disciplinary sectors from the sciences, humanities and social sciences. We link e.g. to the Environmental Humanities Centre EHC, and the Interfaculty Research Institute for Culture, Cognition, History and Heritage CLUE+.

More information can also be found here:

Want to know more?

Get in touch with the coordinators