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Marieke Sassen

Senior Technical Specialist Biodiversity and Agriculture | Ecosystem Assessment and Policy Support

Marieke develops and manages interdisciplinary projects investigating trade-offs and synergies between agriculture development and biodiversity at different scales. Her work includes collecting and analysing data, synthesizing knowledge and using scenarios, modelling and spatial analysis, to inform sustainable land-use planning and agricultural (development) policy in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. Based at Wageningen University, she currently leads work on assessing the risks and opportunities for biodiversity and ecosystem services from cocoa development in West/Central Africa

Previous experience & expertise

Marieke has more than 15 years’ experience conducting and managing interdisciplinary research investigating how human-environment interactions lead to spatial variation in land use and associated impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services at different spatial scales. She holds an interdisciplinary PhD in conservation and development from Wageningen University (2014) working with the World Agroforestry Centre (Kenya) and the Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation (Uganda). Previously, she worked for the Centre for International Forestry Research (Cameroon and Gabon). Marieke’s experience includes using GIS, remote sensing, social and ecological field surveys, statistical analysis, scenario development and facilitating multi-stakeholder scenario and policy review workshops.

Recent work by Marieke Sassen

UKRI GCRF Trade, Development and the Environment Hub |

Marieke developed and co-leads a project component assessing the social and environmental impacts of cocoa trade along a gradient of production intensities and cocoa-driven deforestation from West to Central Africa, in collaboration with the Plant Production Systems Group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

CocoaSoils |

Marieke developed and leads a project component seeking to inform sustainable cocoa production intensification policy and planning by mapping and assessing the vulnerability of and opportunities for biodiversity and ecosystem services in the West African cocoa zone, currently and in relation to potential shifts in cocoa suitability under climate change.

Engaging stakeholders in using scenarios of land use change due to agricultural commodity development in the Lake Victoria Basin, MacArthur Foundation (2015-2017) |

Marieke led the development and implementation of this project investigating the potential impacts of land-use change on biodiversity and ecosystem services under different future socio-economic scenarios in the Lake Victoria Basin. The project also helped develop recommendations to strengthen national agricultural policies in light of future uncertainty.