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<    PhD project – ESR 14    >

Catherine Fayet

Managing trade-offs in agricultural landscape transitions: protecting cultural heritage versus rewilding


MSc Environment and Resource Management (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

MSc Applied and Affective Psychology (University of Geneva, Switzerland)

BSc Applied and Affective Psychology (University of Geneva, Switzerland)

Host Institute: IUCN Brussels, Belgium

Supervisor: Prof. Peter Verburg (VU Amsterdam)

Country of Origin: Switzerland

Languages: English, French, Spanish

catheirne 2

About Me

I explore opportunities in abandoned farmlands in Europe to develop trajectories that help to respond to current environmental, social and climate challenges. Agricultural abandonment is not always an end-state: while it can bring opportunities for nature and biodiversity restoration with passive management, there are also sustainable options to revive these abandoned areas (e.g., with re-farming, agro-forestry, economic diversification…).

For the first part of my research, I built an inventory of the different trajectories that can be develop in abandoned agricultural lands and identified their driving forces. For my second paper, I looked at the role of abandoned agricultural lands in the EU Green Deal policies. Combining policy review with expert interviews, I examined what these policies can mean for landowners in terms of opportunities and challenges for (re-)management to contribute to the targets for biodiversity, climate change, sustainable farming, and rural development. For my third paper, I modelled the potential impacts of different abandonment trajectories on ecosystem services, and how they can contribute to some of the EU Green Deal targets. 

A few words about me: I grew up in the countryside. As an outdoor enthusiast, I practice horse riding, running, hiking, and I like taking pictures of landscapes and early morning skies!




Fayet, C. M. J., Reilly, K. H., Van Ham, C., & Verburg, P. H. (2022). What is the future of abandoned agricultural lands? A systematic review of alternative trajectories in Europe. Land Use Policy, 112, 105833.

Fayet, C. M. J., Reilly, K. H., Van Ham, C., & Verburg, P. H. (2022). The potential of European abandoned agricultural lands to contribute to the Green Deal objectives: Policy perspectives. Environmental Science & Policy, 133, 44-53.

Fayet, C. M., & Verburg, P. H. (2023). Modelling opportunities of potential European abandoned farmland to contribute to environmental policy targets. Catena, 232, 107460.

Fayet, C., 2021. The Future of Abandoned Agricultural Lands: An Inventory of Alternative Trajectories in Europe (Poster Presentation). Seventeenth International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic & Social Sustainability PDF.