Master theses topics I would like to explore with students
Enhancing biodiversity in agricultural landscapes through more effective governance
Agricultural landscapes offer many opportunities for biodiversity. Yet due to intensification, in many countries biodiversity is in decline. My research focuses on the governance of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes: public policies such as agri-environment schemes, but also voluntary initiatives of (collectives of) farmers, work conducted by NGOs and local citizen volunteers, and market parties that are starting to pay attention to biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. I am interested in comparisons between governance arrangements, preferably in an international context: what works, where and why?
Understanding and enhancing the role of citizens in agrobiodiversity governance
Social scientific research thus far has paid limited attention to how citizens value agrobiodiversity and its decline, and, moreover, how these valuations can be influenced by means of information. This knowledge gap is problematic because citizen’s valuations of agrobiodiversity matter for retaining political interest in the subject, for legitimizing agri-environment schemes and other conservation initiatives and for actively supporting conservation by farmers. I look for students who are interested in exploring further (Dutch) citizens’ knowledge of trends and the status of agrobiodiversity, whether and how they appreciate agrobiodiversity, and whether and how citizens can be mobilized to contribute to the enhancement of agrobiodiversity.
Managing human-wildlife conflicts
The effective protection of endangered species and the co-existence of humans and wildlife often requires support from local stakeholders. I am looking for students who are interested in conducting analyses of the framings that underlie human-wildlife conflicts, in order to provide a better understanding of the nature of these conflicts, and ways in which they can be mitigated or avoided. Together we can identify interesting cases (particular species in a particular country). The case of the Dutch badger population has my specific interest – with the increase in this population, a growing number of farmers state to suffer from damage by badgers whereas ‘urbanising badgers’ are considered problematic by some but not all citizens.
Invasive alien species
Over the last few decades, the number of invasive alien species (IAS) has increased worldwide. Since IAS can have negative impacts on biodiversity, human health, and the economy, IAS policies and management schemes have been implemented for an early detection of IAS, for their eradication or, if that is not possible, for controlling their populations. Yet these policies and schemes have not been sufficient to tackle the problem. Public support among stakeholders seems to be one of the problems. What lessons can be learned from successful or unsuccessful attempts to tackle the problem of IAS? How do different stakeholders perceive the problem?
See https://www.uu.nl/staff/HACRunhaar/Courses for relevant publications stemming from earlier work, in part with students at WUR and at UU.