Netherlands, Nijmegen

Nature in a Crowded Country: Biodiversity and Ecology in Semi-Natural Landscapes

when 13 August 2018 - 17 August 2018
language English
duration 1 week
credits 2 ECTS
fee EUR 635

Where hills, rivers and sea meet, the Netherlands contains a unique diversity in flora and landscapes on a relatively small but densely populated area. This course introduces Northwestern European nature; nature interlaced with society. Via expert lectures and field visits throughout the Netherlands you’ll explore the botanic diversity and (semi-)natural landscapes and learn how the Dutch manage and shape their country.

At the end of four large European rivers (Ems, Meuse, Rhine and Scheldt, The Netherlands is positioned in one of the largest river delta’s in Europe and combines the flora and landscapes of Atlantic, Boral, and Central Europe in a relatively small area in Northwestern Europe. The landscapes are formed by the ice-ages and slowly transferred to the reign of sea and rivers until the growing human population took over and formed the landscape, creating a distinct form of nature. In the densely populated Netherlands this is even more pronounced. The omnipresence of water forced the Dutch to cope with water. The constant struggle against floods, the growing need for agricultural lands and living space has resulted in man-made landscapes. Within this mosaic of natural and semi-natural landscapes a unique biodiversity is present, ranging from sandy dunes and tidal flats along the coast to hills covered with calcareous grassland or heathlands on mineral soils, as well as peat marshes below sea-level and moraine forests pierced by river lowlands.

In this course you will be introduced into a wide range of landscapes and ecosystems, characteristic to Northwestern Europe. You will explore the botanic biodiversity and ecology of various Dutch ecosystems through active field visits around the country. In addition botanists, ecologists, and nature managers will present their work to provide you with an insight in the Dutch approach of maintaining biodiversity and combining ecosystem services with societal needs. Topics will include ‘Large –scale nature development along the river lowlands,’ ‘How to cope with subsiding peat landscapes?’, ‘Using nature for coastal protection,’ and ‘How small-scaled agriculture facilitates biodiversity.’
Radboud University in Nijmegen is the ideal starting point. Some of the leading ecological and floristic research institutions in the Netherlands are on campus, including the university’s Institute for Water and Wetland Research which performs a wide range of studies into ecosystem functioning including biogeochemical cycles and root- and plant physiology up to the ecosystem level. The position of Nijmegen in the Netherlands provides the opportunity to visit numerous landscapes which are close-by, including the river lowlands and moraine forests, all within a five kilometre radius.

But our range is larger; including visit to the flat landscapes in the Dutch peat district, where you’ll find well developed grassland ecosystems; below sea level, shaped in the formation of large cities which surround it. In the Netherlands, the sea is omnipresent and a visit to our dune systems is inevitable. Surrounded by dry dune grasslands and wet dune slacks, you’ll find out why millions of people depend on this ecosystem.

Course leader

Nils van Rooijen
Postdoctoral Researcher
Experimental Plant Ecology
Radboud University

Target group

Master, PhD, Postdoc, Professional. Students, researchers, and professionals with a background in ecology , biodiversity, or nature- and landscape management.

Course aim

After this course you are able to:
1. Explain the diversity of landscapes In Northwestern Europe and the Netherlands in particular
2. Distinguish and place natural and semi-natural ecosystems
3. Understand how nature is implemented in man-made landscapes
4. Understand how biodiversity is actively maintained and managed

Fee info

EUR 635: The fee includes the registration fees, course materials, access to library and IT facilities, coffee/tea, lunch, and a number of social activities.


We offer several reduced fees:
€ 572   early bird discount – deadline 1 April 2018 (10%)
€ 540  partner + RU discount (15%)
€ 476   early bird + partner discount (25%)

Register for this course
on course website