Life on earth is not possible without biodiversity. Flowers and bees, but also bacteria, rainforests and city gardens - they are essential for food production, combating climate change, clean air and water, natural resources such as wood, preventing diseases and for our quality of life. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is working hard to create a society in which biodiversity flourishes. We do this through research, education and cooperation with businesses, government and NGOs.
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 directly linked to major challenges of our time such as food security, climate change and health. Almost everything we eat and most of our building materials and medicines come from biological resources. Diversity of food crops is crucial to prevent diseases and climate change from taking hold in our food system. Biodiversity is needed as a buffer against flooding, drought and erosion and for healthy soil and clean water. According to the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity, at least 40% of the world's economy depends on biological resources. In short: without biodiversity, we cannot live. Biodiversity is the basis of our existence.
But biodiversity is under enormous pressure worldwide, including the Netherlands. 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. It is important to realise that biodiversity loss and climate change reinforce each other. To turn the tide, a change of thinking and action is needed. Without far-reaching action, we are heading for an unlivable planet.
Bending the curve of biodiversity loss
Black: The historical biodiversity loss curve before 2010 Green: with effort through more sustainable production and consumptionOrange: 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 within numerous disciplines, our ecologists, soil experts, plant and animal scientists, 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 across the globe.
The global biodiversity, food and climate issues cannot be considered separately and can only be solved through an integral (evidence-based) scientific approach. Success can be achieved if all parties in these domains join forces. Not just scientists, but also businesses, governments, citizens and civil society organisations. WUR aims to lead as a global unifier in developing new innovations and integrated solutions to restore biodiversity in a sustainable and just manner.
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.
With governments, businesses and NGOs, we work together 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 research programme Nature Inclusive (KB-36), commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, 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 populations in the Dutch North Sea, coastal waters and IJsselmeer 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.
PEER: Wageningen Environmental Research is a key member of this partnership of eight of the largest European environmental centres.
Wageningen University & Research offers education and (online) courses on biodiversity for students and professionals. Take a look - is there something for you?
Bachelor's and Master's degrees
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.
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.
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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?