How do changes in biodiversity and climate affect each other in Dutch landscapes? That question is at the heart of the COMBINED project that NWO awarded today. "In addition, we do not know exactly what the effect of existing management measures is or what barriers stand in the way of implementing successful measures," says project leader Wieteke Willemen of the University of Twente. COMBINED aims to change this over the next six years.
The climate, nature and people's well-being are inextricably linked and constantly changing. Unfortunately, an adaptive and integrated approach is lacking. Therefore, ten knowledge institutes and fourteen social partners will acquire knowledge on the interactions between climate, nature and people. In this way, the project partners want to work together on a successful approach to climate change and biodiversity loss.
COMBINED will study those interactions in several Dutch landscapes with grassland, forest and urban nature. "We focus specifically on these landscapes because they cover a large part of the Netherlands. We expect to make the most positive impact here. Grasslands with many different plant species are good for people and nature, forests are important for combating climate change and nature in cities improves the living environment for people, plants and animals." The faculty of ITC will use satellite imagery to learn about how the behaviour of landscapes after droughts and heat periods. We will see more and more of these periods under climate change in the coming decades. The faculty of BMS will work with stakeholders such as farmers, land managers, and municipalities to develop options for action and establish joint knowledge systems and learning processes.
The consortium will work towards a future in which Dutch landscapes increase in biodiversity, become climate robust and form a healthy living environment. All partners will do this by looking at entire landscapes with all sectors from different disciplines. This will lead to improved management and landscape design. Unique to this project is the close cooperation between social and natural science researchers. "We not only look at different measures and what effects they have, but also why it's still not possible to really change things on a large scale and together in the Netherlands?" says Willemen. "Then we apply creative methods that help to look at the future in a new way. This is important to develop options that can really lead to change," says project partner Esther Turnhout.
The COMBINED project 'Combatting biodiversity loss and improving climate change resilience through evidence-based, integrated, and adaptive landscape governance in the Netherlands' is led by Prof. Wieteke Willemen of University of Twente together with University of Utrecht, Wageningen University, HAS Green Academy, and partners from Leiden University, Hogeschool Van Hall Larenstein, Naturalis, InHolland, Hanzehogeschool Groningen, AERES, PBL, Natuurmonumenten, Staatsbosbeheer, Municipality of Groningen, Municipality of The Hague, Urgenda, LTO Nederland, BoerenNatuur, Landgoed Twickel, LandschappenNL, Province of Gelderland, Province of Utrecht, Bij12, FrieslandCampina.
The total budget is almost EUR 4 million. Most of it is granted by NWO and about 250,000 euros are contributed by the partners themselves. On behalf of the University of Twente, involved in this programme are: Prof Dr Wieteke Willemen (Faculty of ITC), Prof Dr Esther Turnhout (Faculty of BMS), Dr Steven McGreevy (Faculty of BMS), Dr ir Thomas Groen (Faculty of ITC), Dr Ir Wietske Bijker (Faculty of ITC). Read more about the project and the NWA programme Climate and Nature on NWO's website (In Dutch).