Žiga Malek’s main research interests are the changes to land systems and the associated consequences in terms of risk and changes to limited resources such as freshwater. Specifically his interests are analysing changes in future land use, land cover and land management due to growing food demand, evaluating potential adaptation options (such as irrigation efficiency improvements), identifying the tradeoffs between future cropland expansion, intensification and biodiversity protection, and improving the simulation of responses to climate change in land system modeling. He uses a wide variety of tools from spatial analysis and modeling carried out using remote sensing, geographic information systems and environmental simulation, to identifying driving forces of environmental change and development of future socio-economic scenarios through participatory modelling. He is interested in regions in socio-economic transition and areas particularly vulnerable to global changes, for example mountainous and (semi)arid regions, such as the Mediterranean.
Before working at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Žiga worked as a researcher in Austria at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Vienna. There, he worked on the potential effects of land systems changes on future hydro-meteorological risks. Dr. Malek studied landscape architecture at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. He holds a doctorate in Physical Geography from the University of Vienna.