The TerraNova project, entitled The European Landscape Learning Initiative: Past and Future Environments and Energy Regimes shaping Policy Tools, aims to improve understanding of European landscape histories and land uses over the long term. Led by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and funded by the European Commission through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, it is an Innovative Training Network that trains 15 early-stage researchers across the project’s nine partners.

TerraNova Photo: Pixabay/djedj

European landscapes have long been managed by people for agriculture and other land uses, and have been influenced by changes in ecological, physical, cultural and social conditions. Now, human-induced climate change is a major threat to their ecosystems and the benefits they provide to people. The TerraNova project seeks to understand past changes in the interactions between humans and landscapes as our energy regimes have changed. Using this understanding, it will provide scientific guidance on maintaining and enhancing the natural and cultural value of Europe’s landscapes. Criteria for rewilding abandoned agricultural lands will be developed, and scenarios for landscape change will be produced to inform land management decisions that balance biodiversity, cultural heritage and economic qualities.

Fifteen early-stage researchers hosted at different partner institutions will explore these issues to complete doctoral degrees. The individual research projects will be implemented at regional and European scales, and will focus on four field laboratories in different climatic zones across Europe. Each researcher carries out secondments at other institutions from their host and participates in regular field schools. Working together and in dialogue with a wide variety of stakeholders, the early-stage researchers will improve understanding of the natural and social drivers of landscape change in Europe and of alternative land management options that enhance natural and cultural landscape values.

IUCN Europe hosts one early-stage researcher, who will analyse the rewilding potential of abandoned agricultural land, taking into consideration agricultural biodiversity value and cultural heritage. They will also explore how changing human-environment interactions lead to different development pathways. The early-stage researcher will be enrolled in the Ph.D. programme at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 813904.

It is coordinated by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam with the following partners: Leiden University, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Uppsala University, Rewilding Europe, Aarhus University, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IUCN European Regional Office and University of South-Eastern Norway. The project runs from 2019 to 2023.

For more information, please contact Chantal van Ham, EU Programme Manager Nature Based Solutions: [email protected]

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