Living Lab Ooijpolder
Living Lab Ooijpolder

Living Lab Ooijpolder

Scaling up successful socio-ecological experiments for biodiversity restoration

Innovative forms of nature restoration have been successfully implemented in the Ooijpolder in Gelderland over the last fifteen years. Examples are the creation of hedgerows and floral strips (which has resulted in more wild bees) and the forging of a link between agriculture and nature in various locations. One of the key success factors in this range of experiments has been that farmers, conservationists, governments and companies have collaborated on integrated area development.

The Living Lab Ooijpolder examines the way in which the existing pilot schemes and initiatives have improved biodiversity in the region. The researchers will analyse the key success factors and identify what we can learn from them for both the Ooijpolder itself and the rest of the Netherlands. The researchers will also work together with the relevant regional parties in order to find new business models and collaborations, which will allow for the continuation and expansion of the current achievements.

Collaboration across disciplines

The scientists who participate in the project come from different research fields. Together with stakeholders from the area, they look at the ecological effects of biodiversity recovery measures. The team is investigating possibilities for sustainable financing and appropriate laws and regulations from various governments, especially for the participating farmers. Together, the project members look at the conditions for cooperation between stakeholders in the area and beyond. The unique character of the region and the people who live there are the starting point.


There are currently three (sub) research projects:

Biodiversity above and below ground

Many species develop positively around the newly realised hedgerows and flower strips, indicating the success of the measures taken. This research is aimed at scientifically underpinning the effectiveness of the green-blue landscape elements. In addition, it will be investigated to what extent the effects of measures differ per landscape type. The information from this study can be used to estimate the best measures in different types of landscape.

A second study focusses on the influence of the biodiversity present in the soil on agriculture. A healthy soil life is an important condition for a fertile soil. This is an example of so-called functional agrobiodiversity. The natural diversity of species within the agricultural system is used directly or indirectly for farmer’s practice. Soil life is partly responsible for the smell of the soil. By using a sensor to "smell" the soil, we hope to develop a new way to show how healthy the soil is.

Revenue models and supporting laws and regulations

This research will study the conditions and obstacles affecting the success of initiatives by which farmers and other land users aim to strengthen biodiversity. We examine why existing initiatives in the area have been realized, with a special focus on the role of laws and regulations and financial models.

For example, the fact that farmers received financial compensation appears to be an important reason for the successful realization of the landscape elements on their plots. We are also exploring how farmers can receive higher rewards for their products and the services they provide. In addition to a higher price for a product, it also involves (new) regulations for landscape development.

In addition, we look at measures aimed at functional agrobiodiversity that can lead to lower costs or added value for farming practices. By comparing different initiatives, lessons will be learned about the possibilities of applying comparable measures elsewhere and scaling up.

Fruitful cooperation

This study focuses on cooperation in the area. An important condition for the success achieved is the local approach: parties work together as much as possible on new initiatives and thus pool their knowledge and expertise. At the same time, a variety of new demands in the area, such as energy production and housing, are putting increasing pressure not only on biodiversity, but also on the possibility of cooperation. These 'space claims' are continuously discussed and negotiated at different layers of our society. Often with benefits for one and loss for the other. What is needed for constructive negotiation and fruitful dialogue for biodiversity restoration? The answer to this question will also provide initiatives in other areas with the tools for negotiation and cooperation between people involved from different backgrounds.

More information can be found on the Dutch research project page of Living Lab Ooijpolder.



Contact information

More information on this research study? Questions from the media may be directed to the science editor. All other questions may be directed to the researcher.