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Which 'hidden' organisms live in the city? How can we use these organisms to help trees grow better, make concrete more plant-friendly and measure heat stress? Will city dwellers act more environmentally conscious if they let their gardens grow wilder and know more about what lives there? A broad consortium led by Michael Stech will conduct research over the next four years to answer these questions.

Michael Stech, researcher at Naturalis Biodiversity Center, receives a grant of 1.9 million euros from the Nationale Wetenschapsagenda (National Science Agenda), a research program of the Dutch Research Council NWO, to open the 'black box' of hidden biodiversity in the city together with universities, universities of applied sciences, municipalities, companies, nature organizations and other partners: the HiddenBiodiversity project.

Stech: “Hundreds of species of fungi, bacteria, soil animals, bryophytes, lichens and other small organisms live in the city. Soil life is important for vegetation, such as trees. Bryophytes and lichens grow on the trees, which in turn provide shelter for (soil) animals. But it is not sufficiently known which species are present in the city, how they interact and what the influence is of soil hardening or heat stress. At the same time, cities are faced with the enormous task of becoming greener and more climate-proof. Knowledge about hidden biodiversity can help with this.”

HiddenBiodiversity combines biological, ecological, material science and psychological research with a wide range of activities for and with city residents to gain this knowledge and disseminate it to society. Stech: “We focus on the public space and the private environment at the same time. Governments and companies need tools to promote biodiversity as a whole and to monitor the success of climate-adaptive measures. At the same time, we want to encourage citizens to notice and appreciate biodiversity in their own living environment. In this way, we hope to achieve the greatest possible impact for a green and species-rich city.”

More information

The Hidden Biodiversity project will be carried out by a broad consortium consisting of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Universiteit Leiden/Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Technische Universiteit Delft, Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Bryologische en Lichenologische Werkgroep, Hogeschool Leiden/Leiden Centre for Applied Bioscience, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Bureau Stadsnatuur Rotterdam, Cobra Groeninzicht, H.D. Sneep holding BV (Greenwavesystems), Heijmans NV, Gemeente Amsterdam, Gemeente Leiden, Nederlandse Entomologische Vereniging (NEV), Provincie Noord-Holland, Reichwein Post Production BV, Respyre BV, Stichting Steenbreek, Stichting Trompenburg Tuinen & Arboretum, Stichting Vrienden van de Leidse Hortus, Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, Stichting Nederlandse Natuurhistorische Collecties, Stichting Waarneming.nl, EnerSearch Solar GmbH and Naturalis Biodiversity Center.

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