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Research methodologies


Lifescape stands for rural development so people profit from the landscape they are preserving. In order to calculate the impact of human actions on the ecology and the economy within Lifescape research methodologies are developed. These methods are made for use in all European countries.



Measuring ecological impact


With regard to the methodology to measure the ecological impact of rural development, a user friendly GIS interface has been developed, which evaluates and measures the ecological impact of economical or infrastructural actions taken in a rural development plan. Within this interface it is possible to evaluate different alternative actions. This tool supports decision makers by pointing out alternative plans which have a low(er) negative impact on the ecology of an area. The GIS interface is subdivided in:

  • a model for evaluating changes in habitat suitability and population dynamics for certain indicator species;
  • a model for evaluating changes in vegetation;
  • a model for evaluating landscape value in relation to recreational perception.

These models result in GIS maps visualizing changes in ecological value due to planned actions. The GIS maps can also be used to communicate to a broad range of interest groups, existing of for instance governments, nature conservation groups, farmers, recreants, et cetera.


Contact: Vlaamse Landmaatschappij, E-mail Erik Verhaert, telephone 0032-14258332, www.demerodeonline.be



Measuring economic impact


The developed user-friendly model to estimate the economic impact of rural development around De Merode forest, quantitatively expresses the impacts with regard to turnover, added value and employment. Knowledge of the economic impact of an action in the rural area can help decision makers in the decision-making process. Instead of the total effect on welfare the Vlaamse Landmaatschappij (VLM) decided only to use priced effects. In the case of de Merode, showing these effects help us to persuade partners to participate in sustainable projects and actions.  A steering group, as an advisory board for the study, consisted of experts with a certain knowledge of economic studies, representing different actors from different sectors like nature, agriculture, tourism, culture and representing different institutions, like provincial and Flemish government, universities, regional organisations, ngo‘s and private organisations.

The methodology is implemented for two cases. The model is not only applicable for the area of the De Merode forest, but can be used for other projects in Flanders if basic data is adapted to the local situation.


Contact: Vlaamse Landmaatschappij, E-mail Erik Verhaert, telephone 0032-14258332, www.demerodeonline.be



Farming for Nature


The concept of Farming for Nature works on four Dutch farms. Farmers combine agriculture with nature management, water management and services as care or recreation. For nature and landscape oriented farmers researchers from Alterra and the LEI calculate how this combinations can give the farmers a sustainable income. The nature-oriented farms are run along quite different lines. The management is self-contained, which means that no manure, concentrates, or roughage are brought in from outside. The farmer produces less food, but he is conserving nature; and the green services he performs (nature and water management) earn him an income. Nature-oriented farms are found mainly in wet regions or small-scale areas with considerable relief. They are also desirable in proximity to cities, because of their recreational appeal. They form the ideal interface between the city and nature, and are themselves areas of high biodiversity. In the concept of Farming for Nature researchers help farmers with calculating business plans. Within Lifescape this concept is studied for the use in other European countries.


Contact: Alterra

www.boerenvoornatuur.nl (in Dutch)


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Cases within the themes:

Enjoyment and learning

Involving local people

Financing the landscape



Business opportunities

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