INBO Research Challenges

Pollution as a major driver of biodiversity loss

Pollution can stem from environmental contaminants such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals and microplastics, and their breakdown products. Natural substances such as nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur, biological pesticides, biocides and heavy metals can also be emitted in excessive quantities from agriculture, from industrial processes and from urban areas. This also includes ozone and particulate matter.

It is impossible to cover this topic in its entirety, but there is a clear need for scientific knowledge on the short- and long-term effects of chemicals on biodiversity. These include nitrogen, phosphorus, heavy metals, pesticides, plastics, PFAS and other particularly hazardous substances.

INBO wants to contribute significantly to the scientific policy support of Flemish and European priorities on pollution. We focus on the interface with biodiversity, in particular on estimating the impact of pollution on biodiversity.

We can estimate impacts if:

  • the size and distribution of contamination (e.g. using bioindicators) are monitored or modulated
  • we know from which concentrations pollution has an effect on biodiversity. This is translated into environmental quality standards or critical limit values such as the critical deposition value
  • we know what the acute and chronic effects of pollution are on biodiversity, and how we can reduce their risk
  • we understand how these effects are influenced by other pollutants and other environmental pressures such as desiccation

Additional topics worth exploring include the restoration of polluted  ecosystems and the implementation of nature-based solutions to address these challenges.


  • {{validation.errorMessage}}