INBO Research Challenges

Urban nature - which nature, and for whom?

INBO studies green spaces and ecological processes in and around built-up areas. This research includes the effects of greening and urbanisation on different groups of people, the impact of urbanisation on biodiversity and vice versa.

Knowledge on urban habitats is lacking or highly fragmented. This knowledge is crucial to understand spatial issues from a social-ecological perspective. In Flanders, cities are growing very fast, and so is the demand for "nature". The link between policy and knowledge on basic nature quality, distribution of nature benefits between population groups, and the impact of urbanisation on nature quality is still missing. We want to translate existing and new knowledge into a better urban and regional nature policy.

A few specific projects and ambitions at INBO:

  • In the Atlas Green-Blue Solutions, we are working together with Aquafin, the Agency for Nature and Forests (ANB), the Department of Environment and VLARIO to create an inspiring overview and database of field realisations (nature-based solutions).
  • We study the diverse values of urban nature and develop ways to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of projects.
  • In cooperation with ANB, we are developing a policy instrument for urban natural network planning to increase long-term liveability and biodiversity in cities and village centres. To this end, INBO is developing an evaluation and monitoring system and supporting analyses of policy instruments and governance.
  • In collaboration with the Green Deal Climate Resilient Environment, among others, we are working on equity of urban nature. We critically examine who decides which nature goes where and which benefits and ecosystem services this brings to different social groups.
  • INBO aims to develop a mapping of urban nature quality, where ecological, social and cultural values are given a place in a policy-relevant product.

This research provides scientific insights at the interface between climate impact, biodiversity and the various values people assign to urban green spaces. We develop methods in remote sensing, habitat mapping, case-based transdisciplinary research, indicator and monitoring systems, etc.

Our research also helps to apply international policy goals to cities and supports regional and local governments and administrations to develop new policies around urban nature, climate and softening. We also help local partnerships to set targets and achieve equitable and biodiverse green urban environments.

INBO works for urban nature with numerous policy and research partners, companies and NGOs, in Flanders and internationally.

Plantje tussen stenen als illustratie van stedelijke natuur


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