NAT: Sustainable Sandy Soil Landscapes

The present use of the Dutch sandy-soil landscape is not sustainable and not climate-proof. Hence there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift: proposition to align future landscape systems and functions at each location with local soil suitability and water availability. For this we aim to design nature-based landscapes that are climate-resilient and sustainable, and we will identify pathways towards these desired landscapes

Recent extreme weather events have clearly shown that intensive agricultural use, drainage-focused water management, and groundwater extraction endangers present and future agricultural production and environmental quality in Dutch sandy-soil landscapes. These are especially vulnerable as fresh-water supply is limited and soils drain fast. The current land, soil and water management of the sandy landscapes is not sustainable and adaptive to climate change. Hence, there is an urgent need for a radical paradigm shift to secure future socio-economic functioning of these landscapes. The landscapes should be used within their natural potential rather than modifying them to serve the human purpose in the short term. It is high time to address the socio-economic problems (like drought, and loss of biodiversity) and socio-economic needs (land use) based on nature-based approaches. For this, understanding how landscapes function under natural conditions can be the first step towards envisioned sustainable and climate-robust sandy soil landscapes.
The landscapes of the Netherlands were heavily modified and meticulously constructed throughout history. The existing natural landscapes are more or less not actually natural: some are under restoration aiming to make them natural. In this case, reconstruction is a method of recreating the past landscapes (including components) and systems. Reconstructing past landscapes where human influence was none or minimal can give an insight into how landscapes actually function in natural settings. Therefore, we aim to reconstruct the past landscape of about Neolithic age, when it assumed to have little human influence on landscape scale. Reconstruction will be done for a study area (to be chosen) in the sandy soil region of the Netherlands with the combined method of numerical modelling and field observations.