Agriculture and Ecosystems

Agriculture and Ecosystem Services

Our mission

Our group focuses on how agricultural and environmental policies affect both people and nature. We study how they influence farmers’ well-being and actions as well as biodiversity and ecosystem health in agricultural landscapes. We want to understand how agricultural systems work at both societal and ecological level, and find out how they could be made more sustainable. Throughout, we want to deliver scientific knowledge that can have an impact on policies and practices.

Current Projects:



 “Leverages and potentials in the Common Agricultural Policy for improved support of Green Infrastructure, biodiversity and ecosystem services”

Daniel Vedder, Marco Matthies, Lea Kolb | Alumni: Lea Kahoun, Judith Rakowski

In CAP4GI ("CAP for Green Infrastructure"), we want to find out how the CAP (beyond agri-environment schemes) affect the work of farmers in Germany and how economically and ecologically useful they are. To do so, we use a two-stage computer model to explore how the policy context affects farmers’ decisions and thus shapes the agricultural landscape, and how this subsequently affects biodiversity and ecosystem services.

CAP4GI Website



“Impacts of the Common Agricultural Policy on Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and People”
Guy Pe’er, Maria Moosdorf, Elizabeth Finch | Alumni: Carla Cerda, Judith Rakowski

The aim of iCAP-BES is to facilitate a shift from identifying problems to designing and promoting solutions for improving farmland biodiversity, ecosystem services, and rural societies in Europe. Specific objectives are to 1) assess the CAP’s impacts on nature and people, 2) identify and evaluate cascading effects of the CAP in Europe and globally. And 3) engage in a close dialogue with policy makers and societal actors to enhance the uptake of existing and generated knowledge for a more sustainable CAP.

iCAP-BES Website


“Promoting a transition to more agroecological farming systems within the current and future policy framework”

Elizabeth Finch, Linn Schaan, Marius Munschek, Maria Moosdorf, Guy Pe'er

The project aims to enhance the understanding of agroecological practices, to increase their uptake by European farmers. Within the project, the UFZ team investigates the impacts of the CAP on agroecology, the barriers and opportunities of agroecological transformations, as well as how different monitoring strategies can help improve our knowledge on the environmental impacts of agroecology. We investigate the policy framework, especially the CAP, to develop recommendations on how EU policies could support the scaling up of agroecology as one set of solutions to sustainability challenges in agriculture.

Agroecology-TRANSECT Website

UFZ Platform Project "Sustainability impacts of the European Agricultural Policy"

An arable field with violet flowering catch crops

Guy Pe’er, Elizabeth Finch, Linn Schaan, Daniel Vedder, Lea Kolb

As part of the UFZ Platform Project “Governing transformations towards sustainable agrifood systems, subproject 3 focuses on facilitating better uptake of scientific knowledge into EU policies, especially the CAP, to enhance agrifood sustainability. Specifically the project aims to develop recommendations for better uptake of science in the CAP‘s design and implementation. Project tasks are to:
1) synthesise existing recommendations from science and assess their inclusion so far in the CAP; 2) develop new recommendations for short, medium and longer terms; and 3) enhance further knowledge synthesis and science-policy interactions regarding relevant EU policies.

Platform Project Website

Past Projects:


 “Developing tools to support farmland bird conservation in the EU”
Judith Rakowski, Guy Pe'er
Conservation Schemes for the Northern Lapwing and the Grey Partridge


 “Grazing for wildfire prevention, ecosystem services, biodiversity and landscape management”
Julia Rouet-Leduc

GrazeLIFE Website

Selected Publications

Published/in press publications

Hering, D., C. Schürings, F. Wenskus, K. Blackstock, A. Borja, S. Birk, C. Bullock, L. Carvalho, M. Bou Dagher-Kharrat, S. Lakner, N. Lovrić, S. McGuinness, G.-J. Nabuurs, A. Sánchez-Arcilla, J. Settele, & G. Pe’er (2023) Ensuring success for the EU’s Nature Restoration Laws. Science 382, 1248-1250.

Pe’er, G., J. Kachler, I. Herzon, D. Hering, A. Arponen, L. Bosco, H. Bruelheide, M. Friedrichs-Manthey, G. Hagedorn, B. Hansjürgens, E. Ladouceur, S. Lakner, C. Liquete, M. Quaas, M. Robuchon, D. Saavedra, N. Selva, J. Settele, C. Sirami, N. M. van Dam, H. Wittmer, E.R. J. Wubs, and A. Bonn (2023) Scientists support the EU’s Green Deal and reject the unjustified argumentation against the Sustainable Use Regulation and the Nature Restoration Law. Open letter (Full Version, 9.7.2023). Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.8033784

Pe’er, G., J.A. Finn, M. Díaz, M. Birkenstock, S. Lakner, N. Röder, Y. Kazakova, T. Šumrada, P. Bezák, E.D. Concepción, J. Dänhardt, M.B. Morales, I. Rac, J. Špulerová, S. Schindler, M. Stavrnides, S. Targetti, D. Viaggi, I.N. Vogiatzakis, H. Guyomard (2022) How can the European Common Agricultural Policy help halt biodiversity loss? Recommendations by over 300 experts. Conversation Letters.

Rouet-Leduc, J., Pe'er, G., Moreira, F., Bonn, A., Helmer, W., Shahsavan Zadeh, S.A.A., Zizka, A. & van der Plas, F. (2021) Effects of large herbivores on fire regimes and wildfire mitigation. Journal of Applied Ecology, 58, 2690-2702.

Pe'er, G.
, Bonn, A., Bruelheide, H., Dieker, P., Eisenhauer, N., Feindt, P.H., Hagedorn, G., Hansjürgens, B., Herzon, I., Lomba, Â., Marquard, E., Moreira, F., Nitsch, H., Oppermann, R., Perino, A., Röder, N., Schleyer, C., Schindler, S., Wolf, C., Zinngrebe, Y. & Lakner, S. (2020) Action needed for the EU Common Agricultural Policy to address sustainability challenges. People and Nature, 2, 305-316.

Pe'er, G., Zinngrebe, Y., Moreira, F., Sirami, C., Schindler, S., Müller, R., Bontzorlos, V., Clough, D., Bezák, P., Bonn, A., Hansjürgens, B., Lomba, A., Möckel, S., Passoni, G., Schleyer, C., Schmidt, J. & Lakner, S. (2019) A greener path for the EU Common Agricultural Policy. Science, 365, 449-451. 10.1126/science.aax3146

Candel, J., S. Lakner, and G. Pe’er (2021) Europe’s reformed agricultural policy disappoints. Nature 595, 650 (correspondence)