Frederik Van de Perre / PhD student

University of Antwerp / Biology

The translation of this testimony was generated automatically by a translation program. Thanks for your understanding.

I study biodiversity in the Congo basin, in particular how biodiversity conservation can be reconciled with carbon storage conservation. Contrary to climate change, the current biodiversity crisis is still underrepresented in the news. Still, biodiversity (in its broadest sense, life on Earth) is the motor driving all ecosystem services, being those functions of natural ecosystems that are beneficial for people.
Particularly in Flanders, habitat loss and fragmentation are the biggest threats to our native species. Flanders is one of the most densely populated regions on Earth and our spatial planning (or the lack thereof) makes that the few nature reserves we have left are small and isolated.
A better spatial planning with housing concentrated in villages and cities surrounded by open spaces would alleviate this threat.
Still, many species also thrive in human dominated landscapes. For instance, 9% of our land surface is taken up by gardens. If those gardens were managed in a natural way and physically connected many species would be able to use them as habitat or corridor.
For this reason I recently started the hedgehogstreet project in the city I live in. Hedgehogs are becoming rare because the gardens they forage in have become difficult to reach or have become sterile lawns. By explaining garden owners that a few (cheap) actions can make their garden a hedgehog highway I’m hoping to create a better habitat, not only for hedgehogs but also invertebrates and other small vertebrates.
The biggest challenge is informing people that the hedgehog, a species everyone knows, is (1) doing bad, but (2) that managing your garden like a nature reserve and (3) linking it with other gardens will make a huge difference for biodiversity. In the same policy makers should consider the impact on biodiversity in every decision they make (for instance when building news roads).