QLE.20.008 – Connect to nature! Enhancing socio-ecological connectivity between nature areas and the surrounding landscapes

Route: Quality of the living environment

Cluster question: 002 What do humans and nature mean to each other and what is the ideal relationship between the two?

Nature areas in the heavily urbanized Netherlands are under constant pressure from environmental forces and competing land-use. Dutch nature policy faces the fact that it is hard to enhance nature quality of existing areas let alone expand nature areas to a size needed for sustaining biodiversity. Yet at the same time it is increasingly recognized that nature is vital to human society, and a fundamental change is needed in the way support for nature is organized. Recent scientific findings establish the need for effective multi-level nature approaches and socio-ecological system perspectives, to guarantee sustainable nature.
This project aims to discover new ways of building such systems in the Dutch situation, by increasing the connectivity of existing nature areas with the surrounding socio-ecological landscape. We will look for new financial relations to ensure sustainable nature, for instance by including retailers, investors and by regional crowdfunding. We will also explore how citizens may contribute to data collection for nature conservation, for instance by using online citizen science tools for mapping biodiversity and landscape appreciation. Nature governance can be revolutionized by broadening the commitment of private funders and citizens using 21st century ways of connecting. Also the idea of new commons, resulting in new types of democratic nature governance, for instance by online citizen platforms or juries, might help. These new pathways can support the core nature areas and valuable nature in the surrounding landscapes, which may be developed as so-called transition areas. This project will experiment in different living labs around various Dutch nature areas, including national parks. The living labs provide the testing ground for the possible new pathways and its contribution to sustainability. The consortium will consist of a multi-disciplinary scientific team and a carefully selected set of societal partners: financial, nature management, governmental and citizen science organizations.


biodiversity, citizen science, commons, communities, digital governance, landscape securities


Organisation Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG)
Name Dr. H.J. (Henny) van der Windt
E-mail h.j.van.der.windt@rug.nl
Website https://www.rug.nl/staff/h.j.van.der.windt/research