Thesis subject

Using games to explore the current and future provision of ecosystem services in an agricultural landscape

The Environmental Systems Analysis Group provides the possibility for students to do their thesis in collaboration with our group. This is one of many possible thesis subjects. Please feel free to contact Dr Le Clec’h or Dr Van Bussel (right) for more information.

Agricultural landscapes provide various ecosystem services, such as soil retention, pollination, carbon sequestration and outdoor recreation. Farming practices can, however, challenge the provision of those ecosystem services, especially of the non-marketable ones. To prevent the prioritization of food production at the expense of the provision of other services, measures, such as agri-environmental-climate measures (AECM), were created. However, a better understanding of both the provision of ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes and the demand of the stakeholders in ecosystem services is critical for the prioritization of investments and the evaluation and development of policy instruments. 

The MSc thesis will focus on the identification of ecosystem der services that are of importance for the local stakeholders, the estimation of the provision and of the demand of ecosystem services, in an agricultural mosaic(s) and the identification of their potential drivers of change. This way, this thesis will contribute to the biophysical and social characterization of ecosystem services provided by agricultural landscapes and give insights into the possible consequences of different scenarios, related to management changes, including AECM, or related to climate change, on those ecosystem services. 

Games can be used as experimental tools to study the behavior of multiple actors demanding for ecosystem services and influencing their provision. They are also useful as participatory social education tools to support effective governance. Therefore, the thesis will be based on the design and the implementation of a board game to evaluate the demand in ecosystem services and perception that the stakeholders have of their provision. The game will enlighten how stakeholders impact ecosystem services, and how their potential decisions might affect environmental outcomes. 

Start time: t.b.d.

Special requirements: The candidate should be fluent in the language of the study area

This MSc thesis will be achieved in partnership with ETH Zurich (Switzerland; contact: Dr. Claude Garcia)