Amsterdam Research Institute for Societal Innovation

Large team will unravel the hidden biodiversity in the city

24 Mar 2022 15:00

Which 'hidden' organisms live in the city? How can we use these organisms to help trees grow better, make concrete more plant-friendly and measure heat stress? Will city dwellers act more environmentally conscious if they let their gardens grow wilder and know more about what lives there? A broad consortium, including the AUAS research group Psychology for Sustainable Cities, will conduct research led by Naturalis Biodiversity Center over the next four years to answer these questions.

The research is funded with a grant of 1.9 million euros from the Nationale Wetenschapsagenda (National Science Agenda), a research program of the Dutch Research Council NWO, to open the 'black box' of hidden biodiversity in the city together with universities, universities of applied sciences, municipalities, companies, nature organizations and other partners: the HiddenBiodiversity project.

Greener and more climate proof

Michael Stech from Naturalis Biodiversity Center leads the project: “Hundreds of species of fungi, bacteria, soil animals, bryophytes, lichens and other small organisms live in the city. Soil life is important for vegetation, such as trees. Bryophytes and lichens grow on the trees, which in turn provide shelter for (soil) animals. But it is not sufficiently known which species are present in the city, how they interact and what the influence is of soil hardening or heat stress. At the same time, cities are faced with the enormous task of becoming greener and more climate-proof. Knowledge about hidden biodiversity can help with this.”

The city dweller central

HiddenBiodiversity combines biological, ecological, material science and psychological research with a wide range of activities for and with city residents to gain this knowledge and disseminate it to society. The research group Psychology for Sustainable Cities of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences will investigate the interest of city dwellers in the hidden biodiversity in their own environment. And what makes them willing to actively contribute to greening the city. The group will also investigate if people act more environmentally conscious if they let their gardens grow wilder and know more about the biodiversity in their own surroundings.

What makes this project unique is that we will not only increase our knowledge of hidden biodiversity and what this does to people, but we will immediately implement this knowledge in practice together with the city residents. In this way we try to make life in the city more pleasant for everyone.

Reint Jan Renes, professor Psychology for Sustainable Cities

More information

The Hidden Biodiversity project will be carried out by a broad consortium consisting of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Universiteit Leiden/Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Technische Universiteit Delft, Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Bryologische en Lichenologische Werkgroep, Hogeschool Leiden/Leiden Centre for Applied Bioscience, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Bureau Stadsnatuur Rotterdam, Cobra Groeninzicht, H.D. Sneep holding BV (Greenwavesystems), Heijmans NV, Gemeente Amsterdam, Gemeente Leiden, Nederlandse Entomologische Vereniging (NEV), Provincie Noord-Holland, Reichwein Post Production BV, Respyre BV, Stichting Steenbreek, Stichting Trompenburg Tuinen & Arboretum, Stichting Vrienden van de Leidse Hortus, Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, Stichting Nederlandse Natuurhistorische Collecties, Stichting Waarneming.nl, EnerSearch Solar GmbH and Naturalis Biodiversity Center.