Personal profile

Personal information

Žiga Malek’s main research interests are the changes to land systems and the associated consequences in terms of risk and changes to limited resources such as freshwater. Specifically his interests are analysing changes in future land use, land cover and land management due to growing food demand, evaluating potential adaptation options (such as irrigation efficiency improvements), identifying the tradeoffs between future cropland expansion, intensification and biodiversity protection, and improving the simulation of responses to climate change in land system modeling. He uses a wide variety of tools from spatial analysis and modeling carried out using remote sensing, geographic information systems and environmental simulation, to identifying driving forces of environmental change and development of future socio-economic scenarios through participatory modelling. He is interested in regions in socio-economic transition and areas particularly vulnerable to global changes, for example mountainous and (semi)arid regions, such as the Mediterranean.

Before joining the environmental geography group, Žiga worked as a researcher in Austria at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Vienna. There, he worked on the potential effects of land systems changes on future hydro-meteorological risks.


Land systems, spatial analysis and modeling, scenarios, GIS, hydro-meteorological risk.


​2015: PhD in Natural Sciences, Dr. rer. nat. (Doctor of Natural Science)​ ​University of Vienna, Austria. Thesis: Combining participatory and geospatial modelling to generate spatially explicit land change scenarios.   ​

2010: University degree in Landscape Architecture (MSc equivalent) ​University of Ljubljana, Slovenia​.

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Research Output 2014 2018

Global change effects on land management in the Mediterranean region

Malek, Ž., Verburg, P. H., R Geijzendorffer, I., Bondeau, A. & Cramer, W. May 2018 In : Global Environmental Change. 50, p. 238-254 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Open Access

A global reference database of crowdsourced cropland data collected using the Geo-Wiki platform

Laso Bayas, J. C. , Lesiv, M. , Waldner, F. , Schucknecht, A. , Duerauer, M. , See, L. , Fritz, S. , Fraisl, D. , Moorthy, I. , McCallum, I. , Perger, C. , Danylo, O. , Defourny, P. , Gallego, J. , Gilliams, S. , Akhtar, I. H. , Baishya, S. J. , Baruah, M. , Bungnamei, K. , Campos, A. & 21 others Changkakati, T., Cipriani, A., Das, K., Das, K., Das, I., Davis, K. F., Hazarika, P., Johnson, B. A., Malek, Z., Molinari, M. E., Panging, K., Pawe, C. K., Pérez-Hoyos, A., Sahariah, P. K., Sahariah, D., Saikia, A., Saikia, M., Schlesinger, P., Seidacaru, E., Singha, K. & Wilson, J. W. 26 Sep 2017 In : Scientific data. 4, p. e170136

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Forest management and future changes to ecosystem services in the Romanian Carpathians

Malek, Ž., Zumpano, V. & Hussin, H. 23 Mar 2017 (Accepted/In press) In : Environment, Development and Sustainability. p. 1-17 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Fuzzy-Logic Cognitive Mapping: Introduction and Overview of the Method

Malek, Z. 2017 Environmental Modeling with Stakeholders: Theory, Methods, and Applications. Steven, G., Michael, P., Rebecca, J. & Stefan, G. (eds.). Switzerland: Springer, p. 127-143 17 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter