Wetlands in the Randstad addresses spatial interactions between biogeochemical cycles and land use, and focuses on Dutch wetlands as a model system to explore new approaches to the interactions between natural and societal processes in a rapidly developing metropolitan area. This issue is scientifically interesting. It is also highly relevant from an environmental perspective considering the widely recognised need to develop anticipatory approaches that take a comprehensive view of wetlands, the factors impacting them, and means for their protection. More particularly, the project will attempt to identify potential scientific benefits presently hidden between traditional disciplinary borders. Progress in gaining understanding of the system as a whole is hampered by the predominance of monodisciplinary approaches. By focusing on the gaps in knowledge between disciplines new insights will emerge that are relevant both for understanding the system as a whole and for making progress in the disciplinary field itself.
Nine individual research projects have been specified for Wetlands in the Randstad. Pairs of key researchers representing the adjacent disciplines will supervise the projects. The Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) will be responsible for the overall co-ordination of the programme and the development of the joint database and geographic information system.