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<    PhD project – ESR 10    >

Leen Felix

Trade-offs between culture and nature in landscape development


MA Biology (KU Leuven)

Host University: VU Amsterdam, Netherlands

Primary Supervisor: Peter Verburg

Country of Origin: Belgium

Languages: English, Dutch

About Me

My name is Leen Felix, recently graduated as an ecologist from the KU Leuven in Belgium. I am a true nature lover who likes to spend as much time as possible hiking, cycling, camping,… anything outdoors really.


Apart from this, I spend my evenings with friends, cooking or going out. Academically, I am fuelled by my passion for the interaction between nature and society, and how to make this more sustainable. So far, my background lies within the purely ecological side of nature conservation. How do current landscape development trends affect biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the resulting services that fundamentally allow our societies to thrive?  And theoretically, what needs to be done to safeguard all this?

Yet, landscapes serve many purposes and understanding how other landscape objectives such as energy and food production, recreation, cultural value,… are affected by environmental changes are exceptionally important. For them to be balanced in the best way possible and to work towards sustainable and pragmatic solutions, we need information on why and where conflicts between objectives occur.

At this start of my academic career, I am eager to expand my ecologist-bubble and build expertise in the more economic and cultural aspects of landscape changes. More specifically, my research will focus on the trade-offs and synergies between nature and culture. Quantifying the impacts of projected land-use changes on ecosystem services, biodiversity and cultural value of landscapes, as well as identifying areas that will experience similar impacts will be a main objective of my research. Other ESR’s can use this information as a starting point for their research in conservation management (ESR 12, 13) and in management of the trade-offs identified (ESR 14).