Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Developing a measure for environmental protection

Protected Areas (PA) are fundamental in virtually all national and international conservation strategies, supported by governments and international institutions such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), or the Convention on Biological Diversity. PA provide important protection of threatened species and are nowadays also increasingly recognised as essential providers of Ecosystem Services (ES).

To categorise PA, in 1994 the IUCN has developed standardised guidelines for PA designation, based on seven different categories (Ia, Ib, II, III, IV, V and VI), ranging from strict nature reserve (I) to PA with sustainable use of natural resources (VI). The different categories represent varying levels of legislative and regulatory protection, based a.o. on the nature and intensity of (land)use and management objectives.

Assessing the environmental protection of a PA using the IUCN categories has proven to be difficult, due to the fact that the categories, although ranging from 1 to 6, are not hierarchical. There is some degree of naturalness incorporated in the IUCN categories, but a higher category does not necessarily mean that a PA is less natural or less protected. Using human footprint analyses, Leroux et al. (2010) have indeed shown that a higher IUCN category does not necessarily mean a higher degree of naturalness.

Measuring the degree of naturalness to assess the protection of a PA is however not enough. Other factors such as management effectiveness, corruption, and various other ecological, environmental, and also socio-economic indicators for ecosystem functions and ecosystem services need to be taken into account.

As an intern, you will be developing a new measure for environmental protection of protected areas, based on two case studies, one in the Wadden Sea, and one in the Kalkalpen of Austria. The work will mainly be performed at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) in Yerseke, with the possibility of spending time abroad in Austria.

We are looking for students who are:

- Motivated
- Creative
- Interested in Ecosystem Services research
- Willing to be (co-)author of an article in a peer reviewed journal

More info

- Starting date is flexible, preferably in the beginning of 2018
- Duration will be 6 months
- This internship is part of the EcoPotential project

Interested? Contact Christiaan Hummel