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Main research question/goal
Hardly any systematic data can be found on Flemish domestic gardens, which all together form the ‘garden complex’. This doctoral study under supervision of ILVO and the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (KU Leuven) gathers basic information on the garden complex to support policy making (spatial planning, agriculture, environment). The research questions are both quantitative and qualitative: the goals are to analyse the garden structures as well as the associated services, to map the uses and to explore the strategic values. One single domestic garden can be considered trivial as a research object due to its small size. All gardens together – called the ‘garden complex’ within this PhD – form a regional structure and landscape component, that can be considered to be a semi-natural resource. A goal at the long run is to acknowledge domestic gardens as a land use category in its own right, that deserves a place in land use statistics, spatial planning and environmental monitoring.

Research approach
We inventory and identify the structures of Flemish domestic gardens. We analyze associated services and their impact, for example the impact of fertilizer use on soil fertility in domestic gardens. We characterize food production in domestic garden from a resilience viewpoint. To do so, we combine different research methodologies, including the analysis of aerial photographs and GIS techniques, internet- and door-by-door surveys, qualitative interviews and research-by-design. Based on the above analyses, we investigate possible pathways to make more out of the current garden complex.

This research puts domestic gardens on the agendas of policy and research. We expect that the garden complex could be of importance in strategies concerning food security, environmental management, water management and climate adaptation, in the near as well as further future. Especially in severely fragmented areas, like Flanders, the broadening of the scope from pure and sectoral land use categories to the inclusion of hybrid landscapes and spatial and functional interfaces of the Flemish reality seems more and more the way to go. This doctoral research delivers basic information and inspiration for policy lines that include the garden complex as a valuable landscape component.
Effective start/end date1/01/1331/12/14

ID: 4149526