Research & results


INBO conducts research into the sustainable use and restoration of water-based ecosystems and their services in light of considerations such as climate change, flooding risk, shipping, port development, agriculture, pollution, fishing and alien species. In this way it supports various policy tools: the Water Framework Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, OSPAR, the Habitats and Birds Directives, the European Eel Regulation, the Long-Term vision for the Scheldt Estuary, the Ramsar Convention, the Nature Decree, the Sigma Plan Update, species protection programmes, etc.

This research is partly carried out under the framework agreement with aMT, VMM and DVW, and is conducted in close consultation with the clients.

  • With regard to coastal waters, among other activities we are developing a strategic plan for monitoring seabirds in the Belgian part of the North Sea. We dissect stranded seabirds to find out why they died and how healthy they were. We also determine how much plastic and oil is in the birds’ stomachs.
  • For transitional waters, INBO contributes to the scientific underpinning of management and policy for the Zeeschelde and its tidal tributaries, the Yser estuary and the Zwin. We draw up assessment frameworks, for example for goals, indicators or measures, for habitats, species and biological quality factors. INBO monitors the status and evolution of systems in order to gain insight into causes, establishes the basic requirements for species and habitats and develops predictive models relating to matters such as climate impact, planned interventions and changes in land use. We provide information about basic ecological requirements for shipping, port design and flood risk management and formulate management and recovery measures and compensation and mitigation proposals. We evaluate landscaping projects and management measures to improve design and management.
  • INBO collects data in standing waters to monitor the current status and developments. This is done for Natura2000 reporting purposes and to answer specific questions from policymakers or management teams. In collaboration with Leuven University and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, we investigate the relation between vegetation and land use. In addition, we use our own data to work out the basic abiotic conditions required for a favourable conservation status.
  • In running waters, INBO investigates species and habitats to support the sustainable use, management and restoration of ecosystems under pressure from factors such as climate change, rising sea levels, port development, agriculture and urbanisation. INBO draws up ecological goals and assessment frameworks to evaluate ecological status and provides information about recovery and other measures and the basic conditions for design and management. We develop models of the interactions between organisms and their environment and among organisms. These models predict the outcome of development without any interventions, of planned interventions and of changes in management.