A need for climate adaptation on our doorstep

The National Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug (NPUH) is under severe pressure from climate change. Extended hot, dry summers are reducing water table levels, causing soil desiccation and increasing the risk of forest and heathland fires. The increase of extreme climate events threatens natural and cultural heritage and puts lives at risk. Meanwhile, the demand for drinking water, farming activities, urbanization and high numbers of recreational users are all pushing a stressed ecosystem to its limits. It is therefore urgent that climate adaptation and sustainable practices are integrated in the management of the national park. Utrecht University and the Foundation Nationaal Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug (Stichting NPUH) have joined forces to face the challenge and deepen the existing collaboration by setting up the socio-ecological Research & Education Hub Utrechtse Heuvelrug.

A photo of the landscape of Elst in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, with a forest on the background and a stork flying in the sky.
A stork flying above the floodplains near Elst. Photo: Stichting NPUH.

The Research & Education Hub Utrechtse Heuvelrug provides a transdisciplinary landscape where researchers, students and societal stakeholders from the area can learn together how to achieve sustainability transitions in a way that protects the natural heritage and the intrinsic, relational and instrumental value of the national park. The primary function of the Hub is to:

  • Identify the most pressing and relevant research questions by stimulating collaborations between researchers and stakeholders
  • Facilitate research projects in the area
  • Create a central database for research on NPUH themes
  • Stimulate the inclusion of NPUH themes in UU’s curriculum

The following research themes will focus on different aspects of a sustainable future for the national park: 

Logo of Foundation Nationaal Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug

About National Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug and the foundation

Arisen in the landscape 150.000 years ago through the movement of large ice sheets, the Heuvelrug now consists of 20,000 hectares of contiguous forest and heathland. Including the flanks this even amounts to 40,000 hectares. Since 2003 the southern part of the Heuvelrug has been given the status of National Park, an area dedicated to the conservation of nature. In the national park a variety of actors work together on the protection and development of the area’s nature and heritage, such as landowners, Provincie Utrecht, municipalities, regional water authorities and NGO’s. Stichting NPUH governs this collaboration by bringing parties together and actively stimulating the realization of projects that secure a sustainable future of the national park.  

Website Stichting NPUH
Map of the national park and the operational area of Stichting NPUH. Image: Stichting NPUH.