Department of Conservation Biology

Working Group - Theory and Science-Policy

AG Theory and Science Policy

Our working group focuses on the interplay between nature conservation and societal processes. On a conceptual level, we scrutinize ecological concepts and analyse moral attitudes and argumentations underlying actions taking in nature conservation, including the concept of ecosystem services. Furthermore, we explore by empirical social sciences methods, how scientific knowledge may be effectively fed into the process of political decision-making. As part of our practical work, we actively support the communication and the exchange of knowledge between scientists, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders.
Specifically, we use methods of the natural sciences and the humanities to deal with the following research subjects:

• Inter- and transdisciplinary concept formation and reasoning in nature conservation, specifically with regard to ecosystem processes, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services
• The effectiveness of arguments for the conservation of the biological diversity in practice in terms of efficiency and justice
• Empirical studies on the science-policy interface, e. g. with regard to the development of political strategies or transdisciplinary research
• Development of approaches to effectively network the knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services and feed it into decision-making processes (on national, European, and global scale)

We aim at a close interconnection between our research with policy-oriented activities – to increase the relevance of our own research in the department as well as of biodiversity research in general. Our work on this interface has the following tasks:

• Organising and facilitating dialogues between science and policy to further develop and implement the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and European and German Biodiversity Strategies
• Supporting network-building within and the visibility of the German and the European biodiversity research community
• Supporting the involvement of German scientific expertise into international processes at the science-policy interface, e. g. the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
• Active participation in network developing biodiversity research strategies (e.g., the EPBRS)

For our work, we are building on broad collaborations – within the UFZ, especially the Departments of Environmental Politics and Economics via the UFZ Science-Policy Expert Group, and with colleagues from other institutions in Germany and beyond.

Recent joint publication of the working group:

Heink, U., Marquard, E., Heubach, K., Jax, K., Kugel, C., Neßhöver, C., Neumann, R., Paulsch, A., Tilch, S., Timaeus, J. & Vandewalle, M. (2015):

Conceptualizing credibility, relevance and legitimacy for evaluating the effectiveness of science-policy interfaces: challenges and opportunities

Science and Public Policy 42 (5): 676-689


Ongoing projects

Completed projects


Ongoing projects


Completed projects