Doctoral researcher and Teacher on plant biodiversity and ecosystem services at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development and the Department of Biology.

During my studies and during my professional career at the Copernicus Institute, I have been developing an expertise on plant biodiversity and ecosystems services. Currently, I am carrying out a doctoral research at the Copernicus Institute as well as being active as a teacher on these two topics at both the Copernicus and the Department of Biology. Moreover, I am active in the field of nature conservation. See 'Research' for an overview of my doctoral research,  'Courses' for an overview of some of the courses that I contribute to and 'Additional Functions' for other areas that I am active in.

If you are a student and are looking for a supervisor on a topic related to plants and/or ecosystem services, feel free to contact me. But beware: I think that plants are cool and after talking to me, you will think so as well. There will be no way back.


Strategic themes / Focus areas
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All publications
  2016 - Other output
  2015 - Scholarly publications
Steur, G. (16.06.2015). Biogeografische benadering Natura 2000-beheer. Landschap, 32 (2), (pp. 97-101) (5 p.).
  2015 - Other output
G. Steur (27.01.2015) This seminar discussed the various perceived impacts of the newly implemented Nagoya Protocol on research. The vision of the Dutch Government on policy and implementation was discussed as well as implications on various user groups. findings of the discussion were used to facilitate improvement of policy and implementation.
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Gegenereerd op 2018-03-21 15:43:59

Currently I am carrying out a doctoral research that aims at finding the dependencies between plant species and ecosystem services. Let me tell you why.

In policy and governance, the term ecosystem services is used to express the many different ways ecosystems or nature contribute to our wellbeing. Ecosystem services include important processes such as climate regulation, carbon storage and water purification as well as important goods such as timber, food and medicines.

With the increasing human pressure on our ecosystems, we are degrading our natural capital and with it, the services that we take for granted. To halt this degradation and to promote conservation of our ecosystems, the concept of ecosystem services can be a powerful tool. For instance, by expressing the many services that ecosystem provide, and what species are necessary to provide these services, ecosystems and their important species can be better appreciated and protected. However, ecosystem services turn out to be hard to measure and we find it hard to expose the many relations the services have to its supporting ecosystem.

Interestingly, I think plants seem to be very suitable to address these challenges. Plants stand at the basis of the terrestrial ecosystem because they capture and harness the energy of the sun and present themselves as food and habitat to other creatures. In doing so, plant biodiversity is extremely important in providing ecosystem services. For example, carbon is stored by plants, timber is derived from plants and non-timber forest products are for a large part derived from plants (such as medicines, fruits, seeds, oils and resins). Other services are derived indirectly from plants. For instance, bush meat and pollination services are derived from animals that use plants as a habitat. 

Therefore in this doctoral research I try to answer questions such as: How many plant species do we need to get certain services and in what amounts? Does this change over the year of over different places? Which kind of plants are more important than other, or are all plants important? If we want to focus on conserving certain plant-based ecosystem services, what are then the potential trade-offs or synergies with other plant-based services?

In this project I set out to answer these questions for the tropical ecosystem of the Guianas, which are still largely intact and therefore have much to lose. What we know is that the Guianas are very rich in plant species and around of which 40% is only found within the Guianas. For my research I pursue a big-data approach, which includes the single largest available data base of tree diversity in the world: The Amazonian Tree Diversity Network (ATDN). My endeavours are further supported by the Utrecht University's platform The Academy of Ecosystem Services, which includes the WWF and the IUCN. My (Co-)Promotors are: Prof. Martin Wassen and Dr. Pita Verweij.

There is so much more to tell! However, for the sake of your attention, I will stop here. Feel free to contact me for further information on this project. 

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I think that education is the foundation of a University and and therefore very important. It is the key to the development of students and a better world. In my teaching, I try to reach students with a combination of humour, showmanship and examples of daily life. In personal supervision, I try to create the neseccary time to coach students in order to help them further in their academic development and career. For me, student evaluations are very important and I therefore try to have an open ear for comments and improvements. My personal aim is to let people see that plants are very much not "boring".

Currently I am involved in the following courses:

  • Introduction into the Dutch Flora. Bachelor of biology course (but also open for other students and non-students) for which I am the coordinator and teacher. I founded this course together with Hans Persoon and Vijko Lukkien in 2011.
  • Biodiversity and landscape. Third year Bachelor of Biology course for which I am a teacher on the Dutch Flora. Leading excursions in coastal, heath and moor vegetation.
  • Evolution and Biodiversity. First years Bachelor of Biology course for which I am the teacher for the section on Plant diversity and evolution.
  • Evolution 200. Second year course for the Bachelor of biology for which I am a teacher for the section on plant diversity and systematics.
  • Evolution 300. Third year Bachelor of biology course for which I am a teacher for the section on plant systematics in practice.
  • Management of Natural Resources in context. First year Master of biology course in which I supervise student project groups and assess individual student work.

In the past, together with Hans Persoon and Vijko Lukkien, I have developed a second year course on Nature conservation, Sustainability and Plant biodiversity for the Bachelor of Biology. The course started in 2012 and I was the course coordinator during 2013 to 2014. Currently, this course is coordinated by Rens Vaessen.

I have made guest appearances in the following Utrecht University courses:

  • Plant biology (years 2007, 2008, 2009)
  • History and Philosophy of the Western Biological Sciences (years 2009,2011)
  • Scientist in Policy. (years 2013, 2014, 2015) 

In 2016 I achieved the basic university teaching qualification ('BKO' in Dutch).

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Additional functions and activities

Voluntairy project manager at the Utrecht University Botanic Gardens.

Scientific advisor to the Trésor Foundation.



Gegenereerd op 2018-03-21 15:43:59
Full name
G. Steur MSc Contact details
Hugo R. Kruytgebouw

Padualaan 8
Room -
The Netherlands

Phone number (direct) +31 30 253 0000
Willem C. van Unnikgebouw

Heidelberglaan 2
Room 924
The Netherlands

Phone number (direct) +31 30 253 9153
Phone number (department) +31
Hugo R. Kruytgebouw

Padualaan 8
Room Z301
The Netherlands

Phone number (direct) +31 30 253 7436
Gegenereerd op 2018-03-21 15:43:59
Last updated 24.01.2018