Marlies Doesburg

Marlies Doesburg

Landscape Architecture


A personal perspective and spatial strategy on the development of nature around Utrecht.

The well-being of current and future generations is threatened by climate change and the biodiversity crisis. The loss of plant and animal species can cause entire ecosystems to collapse due to human activity. This collapse can be prevented by changing our behaviour within 10 to 15 years. To contribute to this transition, research was conducted on how biodiversity and the relationship between humans and nature can be improved at the city fringes of Utrecht.  

Since our perception of nature determines how we interact with it, an exploration was carried out to identify existing nature development movements. I drew inspiration from the movements of  'Rewilding - Neo protectionism' and 'Convivial conservation' from the book The Conservation Revolution. I combined them in what I call 'Decultivating'. 

Decultivating aims to balance cultivated and decultivated elements, focusing on restoring natural processes and the active role of humans. The human impact on nature does not always have to be negative; it can also contribute to the recovery and creation of new ecosystems.    

From the perspective of decultivation, a new spatial model has been developed for the city fringes of Utrecht, by adding nature outside existing protected areas. The rich biodiversity of the city is extended to the surrounding rural areas along cultivation axes such as waterways and canals.   

Instead of focusing on specific target species, I encourage natural processes. For this purpose, I have gathered landscape components, such as adjusting water levels and phased decultivation of the land. People are involved in the landscape maintenance of the more cultivated elements under the guidance of a farmer. This promotes the formation of new ecosystems along former cultivation axes, which not only increases biodiversity and speeds up the transition to a healthy relationship between human and non-human nature, but also enhances the well-being of life on Earth.  

Graduation date: 7 June 2023 
Graduation committee: Mirte van Laarhoven (mentor), Lieke de Jong, Jan Maas   
Additional members for the exam: Jana Crepon, Anna Fink  

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