Life on Earth is not possible without biodiversity. The interplay of thousands of species of plants, animals and ecosystems forms the foundation of a healthy living environment, sustainable food production and the mitigation of climate change. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is working hard for a society in which biodiversity flourishes. We do so in research, education and cooperation with companies, government and civil society organisations.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the variety of life in a particular area - from a drop of water to an entire forest. Biodiversity includes all types of plants, animals and micro-organisms, but also the enormous genetic variation within all these species and between different ecosystems, from marshes to deserts.
Why is biodiversity important?
Biodiversity is a 'safety net' that upholds our planet's resilience. The complex interplay of different types of plants, animals, bacteria, fungi and ecosystems keeps the world around us functioning properly. When species disappear, this in turn affects other species and eventually these will cascade into threats to our food security, our climate, our health, natural resources, clean air and water as well as our cultures, recreation and tourism.
Bending the curve of biodiversity loss
Biodiversity is under enormous pressure worldwide. This pressure is due to several factors, such as fragmentation and decline of habitats of plant and animal species, climate change, desertification, over-fertilisation, industrialisation, urbanisation and use of pesticides. At the current rate of biodiversity loss and without far-reaching action, we are heading towards an uninhabitable Earth.
To turn the tide, a change of thinking and doing in the way we produce, consume and interact with nature is necessary. The image below shows what we can achieve, if we all contribute to biodiversity conservation and restoration:
Black: The historical biodiversity loss curve before 2010
Green: with effort through more sustainable production and consumption
Orange: without more sustainable production and consumption
Grey: if we continue on our current path
This infographic was published in Nature magazine: Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy
Working on biodiversity: the Wageningen approach
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) has been working towards this goal for many years through the “Wageningen approach”. From numerous disciplines, our ecologists, soil scientists, plant and animal scientists, technologists, economists, behavioural scientists, transition scientists and other experts study biodiversity issues that affect land, freshwater systems and the seas. Moreover, they are in close contact with involved parties in the chain, all over the world.
The global biodiversity, food and climate problems cannot be seen separately and can only be solved with an integrated scientific (evidence-based) approach. This will only be truly successful if all parties in these fields join forces. Not only scientists, but also companies, governments and civil society organisations. As a global connector, WUR wants to take the lead in developing new innovations and integral solutions that will restore biodiversity in a sustainable and equitable way.
Joint forces in the Wageningen Biodiversity Initiative
The Wageningen Biodiversity Initiative (WBI), established in 2021, is a unifying initiative within Wageningen University & Research. With researchers from many different disciplines, we work together to develop new knowledge, strengthen our contacts and improve education for biodiversity. In addition, we encourage exchange with and between various stakeholders in society through dialogues.
Co-creation with our stakeholders is central to our approach. Would you like to work with us towards a nature-inclusive world, or do you have an idea that you would like to discuss? Please contact us at email@example.com.
Collaborating on biodiversity research
With governments, businesses and civil society, we collaborate to build nature-inclusive and biodiverse societies. Our applied research is of high quality and helps our partners to find concrete solutions for the challenges of our time. Would you like to explore opportunities for cooperation, or use the expertise of WUR in your plan or project? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on our research institutes, facilities and experts, please visit Value Creation & Cooperation.
Research for the Dutch government
In the strategic research programme Nature Inclusive, which is aligned with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), the top sectors, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the European agenda, we investigate the functioning of ecosystems at different scales. We are looking for innovative techniques for measuring and monitoring biodiversity, for example eDNA. And we look at the motives of stakeholders; what makes parties want to be involved in a transition to a nature-inclusive society?
Wageningen University & Research supports the government in a number of Statutory Research Tasks (WOTs). We monitor Dutch nature and nature policy through the WOT Nature & Environment. In addition, we are leading in monitoring and promoting the genetic diversity of plants, animals and trees through the Centre for Genetic Resources (CGN). Finally, WUR is also responsible for monitoring fish and shellfish populations in the seas and inland waters via the Centre for Fisheries Research (CVO).
WUR research on biodiversity takes place all over the world. From protecting coral reefs and rainforests to discussing biodiversity goals on a European level - WUR scientists are everywhere. This makes us an ideal partner for transnational programmes, where we can use our knowledge and networks to connect and scale up initiatives on a broad scale.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a guiding principle for WUR. In the area of biodiversity, we not only look at the SDGs that are directly related to nature (14. Life below Water and 15. Life on Land), but we work towards making all SDGs nature-inclusive. After all, more biodiversity is not only a goal in itself, but also the way to a healthier, climate-proof and food secure future.
WUR is partner in
Delta Plan Biodiversity Restoration: WUR is a partner in the Delta Plan and has a permanent representative in each of the seven thematic groups.
Education and courses on biodiversity
Wageningen University & Research offers education and courses on biodiversity for students and professionals. Take a look - is there something for you?
Bachelor's and Master's degrees
- Master's Agroecology
- Bachelor's Animal Sciences
- Master's Animal Sciences
- Bachelor's Marine Sciences
- Master's Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management
- Bachelor's Forest and Nature Conservation
- Master's Forest and Nature Conservation
- Bachelor's Biology
- Master's Biology
- Master's Earth and Environment
- Bachelor's Environmental Sciences
- Master's Environmental Sciences
- Master's Economics of Sustainability
- Master's Governance of Sustainability Transformations
- Bachelor's Plant Sciences
- Master's Plant Sciences
- Master's Organic Agriculture
- Bachelor's Tourism
- Master's Tourism, Society and Environment
- Master's Urban Environmental Management
Education for professionals
- Animal Behaviour in Conservation
- Climate Change Adaptation in Food Security and Natural Resource Management
- Contemporary Approaches to Genetic Resources Conservation and Use
- Climate Action in Biodiverse Landscapes
- Co-Creating Sustainable Cities
- Environmental Gamechanger – Lead the Way to Sustainable Development
- Introduction to Animal Behaviour
- Online Programme: Sustainable and Inclusive Landscapes
- Online Programme: Tourism in Transition: Exploring a Sustainable Future
- Setting the Scene: Food & Agri Principles for Financials
- Soil4Life: Sustainable Soil Management
- Sustainable Food Security: The value of systems thinking
- Transformative Citizen Science for Sustainability
- Urban rewilding: restore your local ecosystem
Vacancies in biodiversity
We are looking for motivated colleagues! Are you the right candidate for the job with your experience and knowledge? Then take a look at the vacancies below.
2 PhD positions Modelling of Mixed Crops
Business developer international Agri and food business
Postdoc on biodiversity-positive food systems: the role of the dairy sector in the Netherlands
Postdoc Soil Health in Tropical Agroecosystems (postdoctoral)
Onderzoeker genenbank methodiek CGN-Plant
Phd biodiversity modelling
Onderzoeker Sociaal-Ecologische Transities
Senior Onderzoeker Aquatische Ecologie
(Senior) onderzoeker ontwerpend onderzoek landschapsarchitectuur
Biodiversity and sustainability on campus
Wageningen Campus is one of the most sustainable knowledge campuses in the world, for example through the use of thermal energy storage and the application of high sustainability criteria in the construction, maintenance and renovation of buildings.
On campus you will find a lot of exceptional nature. The nature gardens contain rare plants and you will come across all kinds of insects, birds, mushrooms and bats. Every year during the Wageningen Biodiversity Challenge, we count as many species as possible - in 2022, there were over 800.
Other organisations and businesses located on Wageningen Campus also pay a great deal of attention to sustainability. The campus is 80% climate-neutral.
- Read more about biodiversity on campus
- The Green Office stimulates sustainability and biodiversity
- Wageningen Student Farm: oasis of sustainable agriculture
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Support biodiversity research through the University Fund Wageningen
The University Fund Wageningen encourages the development of academic talent, rewards excellent education and research, and facilitates groundbreaking research within Wageningen University & Research. At Wageningen University & Research (WUR), we work hard to improve biodiversity in many and varied projects. Would you like to help?
Looking for a specific topic? View our list from A-Z
- Agroecology and Technology Fieldlab
- Animal Breeding and Genomics (chair group)
- Aquaculture and Fisheries (chair group)
- Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management (chair group)
- BEE-divers: biodiversity as a revenue model
- Bee research
- Behavioural Ecology (chair group)
- Biodiverse environment
- Biodiversity and Policy (team WENR)
- Biological control
- Blogs on Nature and Biodiversity
- Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba
- Building with Nature
- Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN)
- Climate and forests
- Climate and soils
- Circular agrofood system
- Coral threatened
- Ecosystem services
- Environmental Economics and Natural Resources (chair group)
- Environmental Systems Analysis (chair group)
- Environmental Policy (chair group)
- European eel
- Exotic species in the Netherlands
- Experimental Zoology (chair group)
- Imidacloprid - a neonicotinoid
- Innovative nature conservation
- Impact of climate change on marine ecosystems
- Impact of offshore installations on marine life
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
- ISRIC - World Soil Information
- Marine animal ecology (chair group)
- Marine mammals
- Marine nature and biodiversity
- Mussels, oysters and other shellfish
- Nature and health in the city
- Nature-inclusive agriculture
- Nature inclusive transitions
- North Pole (Arctic)
- North Sea
- Salt marshes
- Soil Biology (chair group)
- Streams and stream valleys
- Sustainable land use
- Sustainable soils
- Wadden Sea
- Wageningen Institute for Environment and Climate Research (WIMEK, graduate school)
- Water pollution and the impact on the marine ecosystem
- Wildlife bridges
- Wildlife Ecology and Conservation (chair group)
- WOT Nature & Environment