Research at the Department Ecosystem Services

Research Topics


  • Spatio-temporal distribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services

  • Interrelationship of biodiversity, ecosystem services and human wellbeing

  • Operationalizing the ecosystem services framework for effective and efficient management of natural resources

  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research of the usage of cultural and historical ecosystem services by citizens of all ages, adults and children

  • Development of capacities for integrative biodiversity- and ecosystem research

Contribution to Integrated Projects (IP) at UFZ

IP Land Use Conflicts

IP Urban Transformations

Projects (by main topics)


ECOPOTENTIAL is a large European-funded H2020 project that focuses its activities on a targeted set of internationally recognised protected areas, blending earth observations from remote sensing and field measurements, data analysis and modelling of current and future ecosystem conditions and services. ECOPOTENTIAL considers cross-scale geosphere-biosphere interactions at regional to continental scales, addressing long-term and large-scale environmental and ecological challenges.
Within the project we are contributing to work on participatory approaches for the assessment of cultural ecosystem services for three national parks.

Project Website

Contact: Roland Krämer


Ecosystems providing ecosystem services are often located far away from areas where people live and benefit from these services. Such inter-regional flows of ecosystem services can be induced by both human activities and environmental flows. Through use of such ecosystem services, countries can impact on biodiversity and the capacity to provide services beyond their territory. To date, however, national ecosystem assessments regularly consider ecosystem services only within national boundaries.

We are co-leading the international sDiv working group sTeleBES. The goal of this group is to synthesise theory, methods and indicators on interregional flows of ecosystem services. We are also co-leading an international working group on the topic at the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP). A special issue on the topic is in preparation for the journal Ecosystem Services. Furthermore, research in the department concentrates on assessments of interregional flows of multiple ecosystem services with a focus on Germany.

Contact: Matthias Schröter

Natural heritage areas are protected areas which allow the preservation of unique biotopes and the development of pristine nature. The dynamics of ecosystem services relates to the use and cultivation of land today and in the past. The understanding of the provision of ecosystem services in the past is essential for current decisions on sustainable development of nature and landscape.
In this project we address the following research questions:

  • Which ecosystem services have been provided on natural heritage sites during the past 150 years?
  • How do the dynamics of ecosystem services relate to cultural practices and land use change?

In this project, methods of varying disciplines are integrated to investigate the supply and demand of historical ecosystem services in natural heritage sites. Findings will support mediation and communication for the protection and development of natural and cultural heritage in Germany and will advance the concept of ecosystem services.

Project Website

Contact: Andrea Büermann

BfN Logo

Climate change poses significant challenges to both biodiversity and human health and wellbeing. Thankfully, nature protection, restoration and conservation can mitigate climate change and foster human health and wellbeing.
There is significant awareness on the use of natural environments for human health and wellbeing from local, national and international governments and organisations. Building on this, is a growing recognition of the importance of biodiversity to human health and wellbeing. Understanding the impact biodiversity has on human health and wellbeing is required to implement nature-based solutions for climate change adaption - and public health.

In this project we address the following research questions:

  • Does the biodiversity around the home influence residents’ physical and mental health?
  • What are the pathways through which biodiversity influences health?
  • Is it possible to ‘grow your own well-being’? Is there a relationship between gardeners’ wellbeing and the biodiversity of their allotment garden?


BfN - Website on Climate Change and Biodiversity

Conference Biodiversity and Health in the face of Climate Change

Contact: Melissa Marselle

Evaluating the new greening measures from Ecological and Socio-economic perspectives.

Agricultural intensification and expansion, combined with abandonment of extensively managed farmland, are leading to ongoing losses of biodiversity (BD) and ecosystem services (ESS). At the same time, rural employment is declining and farmers are facing major economic uncertainties. As I am investigating the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as a key factor shaping these processes but also offering tools to mitigate them. To this end, the (sDiv-funded) interdisciplinary project assesses how the CAP affects our environment, society and economy. We put particular focus on the recent “greening measures” installed in the CAP in its last reform. The assessment is part of a broader “Fitness Check” of the CAP, aiming to develop a set of robust, evidence-based recommendations for the next CAP reform.

Contact: Guy Peer

We are working on an Ecosystem Service Atlas (Springer) synthesising recent work concerning spatial ecosystem service assessments that address risks to ecosystem services from multidisciplinary perspectives. The Atlas will address different components of ecosystem services, assess risks and vulnerabilities, identify benefits derived from these services and outline governance and management opportunities. The Atlas will therefore attract a wide audience, both from policy and practice and from different scientific disciplines. The emphasis will be on ecosystems in Europe.

Contact: Matthias Schröter


Despite the high valuation of Biodiversity in the society Germany lacks a stringent concept to monitor and assess changes in species diversity. However, many different data is out there that may be suitable for the urgently needed analyses.

To this end, the sMon working group will compile - often very heterogeneous - datasets from different German federal states for selected taxa and assess possibilities for harmonisation and analyses.

From evaluation of such data, originating from non-systematic monitoring schemes, systematic studies or species geographical distribution studies, sMon will pinpoint perspectives and basic requirements for a systematic assessment of future monitoring programs in Germany. A focus will be on the adaption and/or development of methods for analysis of such highly valuable data.

Contact: David Eichenberg

Civic engagement plays an important role, not only in society, but also in science and research. Citizen Science incorporates the commitment of people in scientific processes, which are not bound to a specific field of science.

There are many opportunities of the use of Citizen Science for scientific research. Whilst, members of science, society and policy across Germany have already discussed the values of citizen science (GEWISS), there are remaining concerns about the use of citizen science both on the part of science and on the part of the citizens.
Concerns range from "cheap assistants" to "inadequate data quality" and "lack of knowledge of scientific standards".

To overcome and address these concerns - and for Citizen Science to achieve its full potential - dialogues and more networking of the actors of citizen science and those interested in science, society and politics is required. We are establishing networks that strengthen the anchoring of Citizen Science in science and society, identifying and building capacities for citizen science in science, and contributing to the professionalization of Citizen Science in Germany.

Contact: Anett Richter

Completed Projects

Climate change has significant impacts on society and biodiversity. People are likely to experience climate change impacts most directly in cities and urban areas. Technical solutions are only one aspect of climate adaptation and mitigation, while nature-based solutions can foster functioning ecosystems as essential backbone to climate mitigation and adaptation. Management that focusses on green infrastructure as measure towards greening cities has the potential to meet several goals across sectors and may also be cost-effective and sustainable. Nature-based solutions to adaptation can therefore help to address both the 2020 targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as well as those of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Building on the international conference 'Climate change and Nature Conservation in Europe - an ecological, policy and economic perspective' held in Bonn in 2013, the research project BioClim (European Conferences on Biodiversity and Climate Change, project duration 11.2014-09.2017) addresses research on nature-based solutions and ecosystem based adaption in urban areas with special focus on biodiversity, climate adaptation & mitigation and its linkages to social cohesion. In cooperation with the BfN (Federal Agency for Nature Conservation) and ENCA (European Network of Heads of Nature Conservation Agencies), BioClim will bring together scientists, practitioners and policy makers to discuss the links of nature-based solutions to important urban challenges related to climate change. The aim is to showcase and explore good practice of nature-based solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation in Europe’s urban areas and their surrounding landscapes, and to analyse challenges and identify indicators of success. An explicit goal is to assess how the concept of nature-based solutions can help conservation to work across sectors in collaboration with e.g. urban planning, architecture, forestry, water and health.

Reference to Kabisch et al. 2016

In November 2015 a joint BfN/ENCA European Conference on Nature-based Solutions to Climate Change in Urban Areas and their Rural Surroundings 17-19 Nov. took place held in Bonn/Germany (conference presentations).

Sythesis of the final report:

The capacity building program "Citizens create Knowledge - Knowledge creates citizens (GEWISS)" coordinated and supported an open dialogue on the development of Citizen Science in Germany with stakeholders from science, society and politics. The program took place from August 2014 to December 2016. The focus of the program was the development of a Green Paper for the Citizen Science Strategy 2020 for Germany. Also, the program enabled the establishment of a citizen science community in Germany and fostered networking of actors from science, society and politics. Also, practical resources for the development of Citizen Science capacities were established.

The main results of the project are a) the development and establishment of the Citizen Science community and b) a jointly conducted discourse on Citizen Science with the identification of opportunities and potentials of Citizen Science in Germany.

More than 1000 actors and stakeholders from over 380 organizations and institutions shared their perspectives to Citizen Science in Germany and communicated the capacities required to anchor citizen science in Germany in science, society and policy. Participants came from university and non-university institutions (20-55% participation), as well as from civil society organizations such as the associations, associations and professional associations (25-70% proportionate participation). Participants were also citizens and representatives from the areas of politics and science communication (17% -45% share of the participation). The participation of citizens was mainly in forms of event formats such as the Long Night of Science in Leipzig and Berlin and discussion events in cooperation with the science shops in Potsdam and Bonn. The moderated online consultation on the framework paper of the Citizen Science Strategy 2020 for Germany was carried out by individual’s members of science, society and policy as well as by groups of institutions and organizations (Positionspapers). Especially the Citizen Science event at the Green Week with the participation of the Federal President a.D. Joachim Gauck at the Bellevue Palace in Berlin on June 7th and 8th, 2016, was visited by numerous visitors and citizens. The Citizen Science Conference, held on 18-21 May 2017, organized by the GEWISS team with the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) and international partners, offered the scientific exchange of the current state of the art in citzen science in Europe as well as open formats for all with a Citizen Science Disco, a Citizen Science Thinkcamp and a Citizen Science Fest.

Contact: Anett Richter

About the project

In order to facilitate the interaction between urban gardeners, Science and the public, the German Centre for integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) designed an educational showcase exhibition together with the Botanical Garden Leipzig and the Helmholtz - Centre for Environmental Research. Within the two year project volunteers from the different institutions will examine the effect of urban gardens on the functional and species diversity inside an urban ecosystem.


With 270 allotment garden colonies, Leipzig features the highest density of urban gardens in Germany. The city is also the origin of the long allotment tradition that started in 1864 with the “SchreberMovement”. More recently, a movement born in England during the 1960s, known as community gardens, became more and more popular in Germany and introduced alternative methods like Permaculture into urban gardening. Besides selfsupply and recreation, urban gardens also play an important role when it comes to local climate and biodiversity – two aspects that are incredibly valuable in times of climate change and species loss / extinction crisis. The showcase will give an overview on different gardening techniques and shed a light on their visibility and effect on soil structure plant growth. Moreover, the project will serve as a platform for citizens, scientists and other stakeholders regarding urban gardening in public spaces.

The exhibition

The installations are divided into seven stations that address different (urban) gardening techniques as well as their effect on local climate, soil properties and plant growth. Four installations feature smallscale examples of gardening techniques such as irrigation, fertilizer, biodiversity and hydroculture. Within each technique a gradient of management intensity is shown and monitored. Additionally three more stations which are located outside the greenhouse premises, address other topics like balcony gardens, green rooftops and wild bees and their contribution for biodiversity. Additionally, one plot will be reserved for a collaboration with an adjacent kindergarten, thus providing an opportunity for visiting children to learn more about sustainable gardening methods.

Auf der Website zum Ausstellungsprojekt „Gartenwerkstatt Leipzig – Grüne Vielfalt erleben“ erhalten Sie alle wichtigen Informationen zur Ausstellung sowie zu aktuellen und kommenden Veranstaltungen: