Universiteit Leiden

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Alexander van Oudenhoven

Assistant professor

Dr. A.P.E. van Oudenhoven
+31 71 527 7473

Alexander van Oudenhoven is an environmental scientist who works on the interface between ecosystems and people. He is Education Director of the Governance of Sustainability master’s programme.

More information about Alexander van Oudenhoven

Professional experience

Alexander van Oudenhoven is an environmental scientist who works on the interface between ecosystems and people. He is Education Director of the Governance of Sustainability master’s programme. Alexander specializes in quantifying and conceptualizing contributions that nature provides to humans, in relation to environmental management, spatial planning and decision making. For example, how do traditional ‘hard’ coastal protection structures (e.g. concrete dykes and barriers) compare to more nature-friendly management measures (e.g. beach nourishments), in terms of coastal protection, dune development and fishery enhancement. And how can we incorporate biodiversity and ecosystems in urban planning, so that the intensive rainfall can be captured and heat stress reduced? Alexander joined CML in May 2015 as a postdoctoral researcher as part of the NWO-TTW-funded NatureCoast project.  In September 2018, he became Assistant Professor at the same institute. The main focus of Alexander’s education lies in the  MSc programme Governance of Sustainability. He is acting Director of Education of the programme, supervises thesis students and coordinates the course ‘Governance of Biodiversity and Ecosystems’. Alexander also teaches at Leiden University College in the Hague, and gives guest lectures at the MSc Biology program and Minor Sustainable Development at Leiden University.

Next to his work at Leiden University, Alexander was Lead Author at the ‘Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES), between 2015 and 2018. Open to all United Nations member countries,  IPBES has become the leading intergovernmental body for assessing the state of the planet's biodiversity, its ecosystems and the essential services they provide to society. Alexander was responsible for the Regional Assessment for Europe and Central Asia, and is Leiden University’s IPBES focal point to the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Fisheries. In addition, Alexander is Co-Editor-in-Chief of Ecosystems and People, an interdisciplinary open access journal that addresses how biodiversity and ecosystems underpin human quality of life, and how societal activities and preferences drive changes in ecosystems.

Education and earlier work

Alexander graduated from Wageningen University in 2008, where he obtained both his BSc and his MSc degree in the interdisciplinary field of Environmental Systems Analysis. He did an internship at the World Resources Institute (Washington, D.C.), and wrote an MSc thesis on the impacts of climate change on the spatial distribution of the oak processionary caterpillar (Thaumetopoea processionea), which constitutes a major health problem in western Europe. This work was done in collaboration with De Natuurkalender (‘Nature’s Calendar’), for which Alexander continued to work on spatial assessments of ticks (Lyme disease) and predicting pollen development (hay fever, the pollen planner).

Between 2009 and early 2015, Alexander was a PhD researcher at Wageningen University, combining his PhD research with several other applied projects. His research aim was to quantify the effects of management on ecosystem services (thesis). Alexander developed a framework for indicator selection and applied and tested this framework during case studies in National Landscape ‘Het Groene Woud’ (The Netherlands), mangrove systems in Java (Indonesia) and semi-arid rangelands, both globally and in the Eastern Cape (Southern Africa). Next to his PhD, he also took part in several projects with the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), developing a database of ecosystem services in relation to biodiversity, land use, land cover and management. Finally, Alexander also participated in a trans-disciplinary project in Indonesia called ‘Mangrove Capital’, together with colleagues from Deltares, Wetlands International, The Nature Conservancy, Indonesian universities and several other partners.

Between 2015 and 2018, Alexander was active as a post-doctoral researcher in NatureCoast, a transdisciplinary project focusing on the ‘Sand Motor’ a so-called mega-nourishment; around 21 million m
3 of sand were deposited along the Ter Heijde coast, which should be sufficient for the next twenty to thirty years. One of Alexander’s tasks was the integration of NatureCoast’s research data of 12 PhD reserachers into policy-relevant information.

Research topic

In his current research and education, van Oudenhoven aims to embed the various concepts about human-nature relationships in policy and practice, such as ecosystem services, nature-based solutions, ecological engineering, sustainable land management. Following an transdisciplinary approach, Alexander works with municipalities, provincial authorities, water boards and (inter)national decision-makers to solve real-world problems through nature-inclusive approaches. Think of using urban green (and blue) to reduce local temperatures, increase water buffering and improve leisure opportunities, or restoring rivers to prevent flooding, improve water quality and create a more beautiful and appreciated landscape. A key aspect of Alexander’s research is the development and analysis of indicators that are both scientifically valid and feasible, but also relevant to and perceived as legitimately developed by decision makers, managers and other stakeholders.

Assistant professor

  • Science
  • Centrum voor Milieuwetenschappen Leiden
  • CML/Environmental Biology

Work address

Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden
Room number A3.12




  • No relevant ancillary activities
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