Conditions and participatory processes for effective design and dynamic management of multiscale Nature Based Solutions in the high sandy soil areas in the Netherlands

Project: PhD

Project Details


Dutch land and water systems support vital functions such as food production, drinking water supply and biodiversity. Land-use practices have led to fragmented nature reserves, desiccation and flooding. The high sandy soils in the Netherlands are extra vulnerable, leading to recent droughts and instances of flooding. Run-off and evapotranspiration increase as temperatures rise due to climate change (Donnelly et al., 2017). This amplifies floods and droughts. Well-functioning vital functions require climate-resilient landscapes with “the capacity of the social-ecological system (SES) to sustain a desired set of ecosystem services (ES) in the face of disturbance and ongoing changes in SES” (Biggs et al., 2012). Traditional technical approaches have reached their limits in dealing with climate change (Jeuken et al., 2021). Ongoing trust in ‘engineering solutions’, however continues to result in engineering-heavy solutions. Knowledge on viable alternative approaches, like Nature Based Solutions (NBS) is often limited (Dorst et al., 2022). NBS use natural processes and make a landscape more resistant to extreme weather events (Lupp, Huang, et al., 2021; Raymond et al., 2017; Unesco, 2018) and upscaling increases CO2 uptake and potentially lowers expected temperature rise (Girardin et al., 2021). NBS often enables flexible management of future uncertainties (Cado van der Lely & E.; Sterk, 2021) and can be vital for adaptation pathways (“sequences of actions that can be implemented progressively, depending on how the future unfolds, and on the development of knowledge and stakeholder preferences”, (Werners et al., 2021) towards climate-resilient landscapes. Many projects show clear benefits (Ruangpan et al., 2020), but NBS are still not used often in regional development and land use plans. Four major issues limit effective application of NBS for climate-resilient landscapes: 1. Conditions for a multiscale approach of NBS for climate resilient landscapes are lacking: Measures for climate adaptation face interdependent challenges (Fried et al., 2022) but current approaches like NBS are often local, fragmented and “highly specialized, focusing on a few ecosystem services and a single scale” (Sarabi et al., 2022), while the increasing impact of climate change requires upscaling (Jeuken et al., 2021) through transitions at multiple levels: Landscape, regime and niche-scale (Brockhoff et al., 2022). Furthermore, there is insufficient knowledge of the systemic interaction between measures at different scales and lack of responsibility for the overall system (Dorst et al., 2022; Ruangpan et al., 2020). 2. Collaborative design and multiscale participation for NBS needs empirical grounding: Climate adaption is often multi-scalar, interdependent, complex and requires participatory methods (Metze & Turnhout, 2014) but a collaborative approach is often lacking due to traditional, siloed approaches (Dorst et al., 2022). Better participation and co-creation processes, like Living Labs, could increase uptake of NBS (Voskamp et al., 2021) however empirical grounding and evidence from multiple cases is lacking (Han, 2019; Lupp, Zingraff-Hamed, et al., 2021; Ruangpan et al., 2020). The same applies for research though design, a promising method for transformative sustainability research (Maher et al., 2019). 3. Knowledge on the dynamic character and long term performance of NBS is limited. Dynamic evolution in performance of NBS due to their natural character is often neglected. This influences stakeholders perception and leads to trade-offs and potential conflict (Giordano et al., 2020) or limits uptake of NBS (Cado van der Lely & E.; Sterk, 2021; Dorst et al., 2022; Han, 2019). To prevent underestimation of performance and risk reduction of NBS the dynamic ecological, social and temporal dimensions need to be balanced (Shah et al., 2020) so environmental impact should be included in assessing NBS (van Loon-Steensma & Goldsworthy, 2022). 4. There is no clear strategy for long-term engagement and responsibilities for NBS Stakeholder participation in the co-creation and co-management of multi-scale NBS increases effectiveness but little academic knowledge about the long-term effectiveness of projects designed and initiated in, for example, living labs (Beaudoin et al., 2022; Bronson et al., 2021; Lupp, Zingraff-Hamed, et al., 2021) exists. NBS require collaborative governance and planning but in (urban) planning many stakeholders are involved in (and responsible for) planning, design and O&M in a traditional, siloed approach. Better participation is needed to increase uptake of NBS (Voskamp et al., 2021) but there is lack of evidence-based work proving inclusion of stakeholders on different scales improves governance structures for design and implementation of NBS (Zingraff-Hamed et al., 2020). Research objectives: The aim of the research is to improve effective application of NBS for climate-resilient landscapes. The main research question is: Which conditions and participatory processes are needed for effective design and dynamic management of multiscale Nature Based Solutions in the high sandy soil areas in the Netherlands? The sub-questions to be answered: 1. Which conditions contribute to design of effective multiscale NBS for climate-resilient landscapes? 2. How and which participatory processes can be used to design multiscale NBS for climate-resilient landscapes? 3. What drives long-term functionality of NBS within changing contexts and how can this affect decision-making? 4. How can long-term effectiveness of multiscale NBS and continuous engagement of stakeholders in dynamic management be arranged?
Effective start/end date1/03/22 → …


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