Research group

MigSoKo – Human migration and global environmental change: A vicious cycle?

Who we are

We are a junior research group co-funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funding priority Social-Ecological Research (SÖF) and Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) aiming to understand the causalities between environmental change and human migration on the tropics. We are based at the Computational Landscape Ecology (CLE) Department at the UFZ Leipzig, in Germany.

Our motivation

In recent decades, millions people worldwide are estimated to have migrated due to environmental change. This phenomenon is likely to increase even more, given the projected continuation of both environmental change and population growth. However, the close relationships between environmental factors and political, economic, and social factors driving migration make it challenging to understand the role of the environment in migration processes. Environmental pressure supports out-migration, whereas in-migration may affect the landscape at the migrant’s destination due to a possible overexploitation of local natural resources. As such, in-migration can potentially accelerate environmental change and even environmental degradation. Consequently, environmental change and migration can become enveloped in a vicious cycle, which has rarely been studied.

Our aim

The aim of MigSoKo is to:

  1. Identify and explain spatial patterns of migration and environmental change, and
  2. Explore the causality between environmental change, population pressure, human migration, and environmental consequences of migration for drylands: a biome where both significant environmental changes and migration have been observed.

Our case studies

The empirical work will be done at various places in Ethiopia. We have chosen this country because of several relvant features including land scarcity and associated high population pressure in parts of the country, resettlement programs initiated by the government, and major environmental consequences of clearing natural vegetation for agriculture.

Our approach

We will use an interdisciplinary approach that combines knowledge from multiple disciplines, including human geography, sociology, remote sensing, ecology, and climatology. Moreover, we will use a broad range of methods to obtain novel information regarding the environment-migration relationship at large spatial detail, including GIS-analyses, interviews, time-series analyses of environmental data, Agent-Based-Modelling and Meta-analyses.

Contact

Dr. Kathleen Hermans | Research Group Leader
Phone: +49 (0) 341 235-4754
email
website

Dr. Jule Schulze | Postdoc (Modelling)

Phone: +49 (0) 341 235-1951
email
website

Charlotte Wiederkehr | PhD student (Meta-analysis)
Phone: +49 (0) 341 235-1948
email
website

Juliane Groth | PhD student (Ethiopian case studies)
Phone: +49 (0) 341 235-1948
email
website

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