Nature-based solutions for land use transitions towards more sustainable societies

A project in the Interdisciplinary Sustainable Initiatives at NTNU

Nature-based solutions for land use transitions towards more sustainable societies


To reduce and reverse loss of nature and land use changes are pivotal to solve the ongoing biodiversity crisis that directly or indirectly affect all UN sustainability development goals (SDGs). The "battle for land" to meet other SDGs compromises SDGs related to biodiversity. Providing solutions requires understanding of ecological, societal and economic aspects of land use changes and biodiversity loss. This project will 

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of the complex and multi-faceted system involved in land use changes affecting biodiversity. 
  • Suggest solutions for how to quantify costs of land use changes, be it biodiversity or societal costs, that provides managers, corporations and stakeholders with tools for how to assess and implement costs of land use change into planning and decision-making processes.
  • Propose solutions for how to compensate e.g. through ecosystem restoration, which will provide a roadmap for a transformation towards sustainable land use that embraces multiple SDG.

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PhD projects

PhD projects

PhD candidate: Beatrice Maria Trascau

My project aims to evaluate the impacts of land-use changes on biodiversity across Norway throughout time. I will be using existing biodiversity records and remotely sensed land cover and land use data to model patterns of change in species richness, turnover, and native species across 100 years of anthropogenic changes. My work will evaluate and compare the impacts of different land-use transitions on a broad taxonomic spectrum and will identify the species and ecosystems most threatened by land-use changes. The PhD also aims to identify the differing and interacting impacts between land-use and climate change on biodiversity.


James D. M. Speed, Department of Natural History, NTNU (main supervisor)

Gunnar Austrheim, Department of Natural History, NTNU

Ivar Herfindal, Department of Biology, NTNU

PhD candidate: François Lazarus

This PhD project aims at uncovering spatial characteristics of critical nature types that allow biodiversity to be maintained, using advanced species determination and community modelling approaches. More specifically, this work will focus on what drives spatial and temporal changes in community composition and abundance across several taxa and habitats. A key target is then to relate community abundance to the habitat size. This project consists of field studies and the associated lab work but will use already collected community data and publicly available data as well.


Bernt-Erik Sæther, Department of Biology, NTNU (main supervisor)

Ivar Herfindal, Department of Biology, NTNU

Erlend Birkeland Nilsen, Department of terrestrial biodiversity, NINA

PhD candidate: Natchiyar Balasubramanian 

This Ph.D. will aim to design a toolbox for municipalities and companies to measure their impact on biodiversity and ecosystems from their land-use practices. The toolbox will be based on the Mitigation Hierarchy framework along with concepts of Net Positive and No Net Loss (NNL). We will be working with stakeholders, namely politicians, decision-makers, municipality staff, local business owners, and inhabitants in Trøndelag region.


Ottar Michelsen, Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management (main supervisor)

Dagmar Hagen, NINA 

PhD candidate: Tonje Aarre Sommarset 

The project will look into societal and political aspects of land use changes and biodiversity loss through the employment of qualitative methods and a case study in a local community in Trøndelag. More specifically, the project aims to gain increased knowledge on how people’s values and perceptions of nature, biodiversity and landscape are part of land use management and management of invasive, alien species, by looking into the case of Sitka spruce eradication in Frøya, Trøndelag. 


Gunhild Setten, Department of Geography, NTNU (main supervisor)

Frode Flemsæter, Department of Geography, NTNU 

Nature-based solutions for land use transitions towards more sustainable societies

Master thesis in Nature-based solutions for land use transitions towards more sustainable societies

There are many opportunities for interesting master projects within both basic and applied research with high societal relevance within our project. Please contact one of the senior project members if you want to hear more about what opportunities that exists. 

Project Timeline and Funding

Nature-based solutions for land use transitions towards more sustainable societies is funded by NTNU Sustainability.
The project was initiated in 2022 and will run in its current state until 2026, during whichtime the research infrastructure will be operationalised and made increasingly available to other research projects.

Want to be involved?

Nature-based solutions for land use transitions towards more sustainable societies  is always looking for good discussions with others. Do drop us a line if you have something you want to discuss.