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Dream Team Burning Lowlands

Last updated on 18 September 2023
How can we protect nature, farm agriculture, ensure recreation and increase biodiversity while at the same time guaranteeing our safety against destructive fires?

As part of the Dream Team, we address the growing issue of global wildfires caused by climate change. Despite urban development, the Netherlands remains insufficiently prepared for these impending landscape fires. Together, we seek innovative ways to prevent these fires.

Our mission is complex due to varying interests. We strive for nature conservation, agriculture, recreation, and fire safety. Your role in the Dream Team involves devising solutions that accommodate all stakeholders.

In 2021, we presented our findings at a geoscience congress in Vienna. Now, we aim to bolster our team with dedicated students like you. We explore prescribed burning from ecological, geographical, and policy perspectives, considering safety and public spaces. We also encourage a change in residents' mindsets to prevent fire hazards.

Supervisor/ambassador: Niels van Manen
Niels van Manen (School of Business and Economics) is coordinator of the research programme, “Landscapes in Transition” at the VU interfaculty institute, CLUE+. His research focuses on the use of GIS and participatory methods to support the transformation of cultural landscapes. He is a member of the VU Fire Research network and in 2022 led the VU Top Talent Team “Burning Lowlands”. Niels is an experienced lecturer and has led several interdisciplinary study programmes and courses at bachelor’s, master’s and PhD levels.  He is also an instructor and researcher at the VU Centre for Teaching and Learning.

Supervisor/ambassador: Thomas Janssen
Thomas Janssen (Earth Sciences) is a postdoctoral researcher in the Earth and Climate cluster. He specializes in understanding global ecosystem dynamics, particularly their responses to deforestation, drought, and fires. Over the last nine years, he has conducted research on a wide range of ecosystems, including tropical, temperate, and boreal forests, tropical savannas, and arctic tundra, spanning four continents. Within the VU Earth Sciences department, Thomas contributed to various BSc and MSc level courses in fields such as ecology, hydrology, geomorphology, and earth observation. Additionally, he has provided guidance and supervision for multiple BSc, MSc and PhD thesis projects.

This team is linked to the Connected World profile theme.