11 to 16 Sep 2017 Hasselt University Maasmechelen
11 Sep. 17

Management of urbanised protected areas (UPAs)

Interdisciplinary PhD summer school

Hasselt University is organising the first PhD course on the management of urbanised protected areas (UPAs) integrating expertise from different disciplines.      

The PhD summer school is a five-day event during which students work in interdisciplinary teams on one NPHK case related to management problems. They are supported by keynote speakers, followed by methodological introduction sessions, and fieldwork and analysis sessions. Senior researchers provide feedback to ensure active participation and learning. The summer school ends with an additional one-day event where students present their project to an international audience of relevant stakeholders.  

The group of participants consists of 15 PhD students at the beginning or middle of their career in the area of biology, environmental economics, environmental law, architecture, urban and landscape design, and transportation sciences, or with a profound interdisciplinary interest in the above areas.

Interested students are invited to apply to participate to the school by filling out the registration form on www.uhasselt.be/UPA_summerschool, including a motivation of 300 words by May 1, 2017.  


Monitoring and management of UPA - During the last decades, outdoor recreation has become progressively more important, especially in UPAs, while biodiversity continues to decline by human-induced stress such as tourism, road infrastructure and urbanisation. In this arena of conflicting demands, careful planning of the area, its infrastructure and activities is needed to sustain the value of UPAs. In this process, stakeholder participation and visitor management are very important, in order to develop effective management strategies.

Interdisciplinary approach – The development and implementation of effective UPA conservation management strategies requires an interdisciplinary approach. Therefore, the summer school uses building blocks from different disciplines: environmental biology, tourism, transportation sciences, urban and landscape design, architecture, environmental law and environmental economics. National and international experts offer methodological approaches which are applied by interdisciplinary teams of students who jointly work on addressing conservation management challenges.

National Park Hoge Kempen as a research case - The summer school will take place in the Field Research Centre (FRC) of Hasselt University located at the main entrance of the Hoge Kempen National Park (NPHK), Connecterra, Terhills. The NPHK is a protected area in a highly urbanized area, and is of great value to the region as a natural environment and as a tourism destination. Although the methodological approach will be framed in a broader context of UPA, the NPHK will serve as the case study on which the theories will be applied.


  • The recreational value of the NPHK   
  • Conflicts between new road infrastructure and nature protection   
  • The effect of stress on wild life in a UPA   
  • Impact of low density dwelling on UPA   
  • Impact of visitor flows within a UPA             


Field Research Centre Hasselt University     

Date of summer school

Sept 11-16, 2017