Biodiversity and Land Use

Maculinea Butterfly

Biodiversity – the diversity of life on Earth – is the provider of all services the human well-being depends on: For example, plants and animals provide food, ecosystems ensure water provision, carbon sequestration and climate regulation. With the increasing pressure by humans to access these services by intensive land use, conflicts arise between the more direct and potentially profitable services like food and fiber provision and the more long-term and less visible services which are mainly maintained by less intensive forms of use. 

Within this context, research on biodiversity and land use has to look at the political and societal context of these conflicts as well as the underlying consequences for ecosystems – and last not least, single species and the pressures we put on them, either by direct use (for example in fisheries) or by the destruction of their natural habitats. Especially in Europe, the latter one has lead to long lists of endangered species, but also to EU legislation like the Flora-Fauna-Habitat and the Birds-Directive. This European and even global perspective links more directly as in other fields to local decisions on land use management, thus leading to the need of a highly integrated approach for the according research.

Societal impact and strategic research objectives

With increasing population across the globe, more integrative approaches which sustain the services provided by ecosystems are urgently needed. To provide options for such a management is the major challenge for the research. For this, also the basic knowledge on biodiversity and its functional role within ecosystems, either unused or intensively use by man, has to be studied.  

Political and administrative frame

With its integrative nature, the field links different policy fields: With environmental and especially nature conservation policy at its center, it tackles agricultural (CAP). Forestry and fisheries and urban development policies.  

Main sub-fields and areas

  • Impacts of climate change & land use change on biodiversity
  • Maintaining the land’s capacity to provide ecosystem services for human well-being
  • Effective monitoring of status and trends of biodiversity
  • Functional role of biodiversity in providing ecosystem services
  • Management of conflicts between land use and biodiversity conservations)

Approach

As a broad range of disciplines between natural and social sciences are involved in the field, he approaches and methods used within the field are diverse. On the basic science side this includes inventories of species’ abundances and their trends over time, including the analysis of underlying drivers and the measurement of processes in ecosystems (like nutrient fluxes, water use and productivity). On the social science side this includes the analysis of policies and management of land use; in order to make these results relevant for society, the integration of disciplinary work is of high relevance.