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Our Research on Supply and Demand for Ecosystem Services

The human society and the world’s ecosystems form an interdependent and dynamic system. On the one hand intensive land use, extraction of natural resources and emissions into the environment has  caused the global loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystem services. On the other hand the human society thrives on goods and services provided by the world’s ecosystems. While trade with some of the derived goods allows for their economic appraisal, many other benefits lack appreciation by decision-makers.

In our research we are interested in the supply and demand for ecosystem services in regional human-environment systems given global change.

On a regional scale we want to understand how the decision-making of land users is influenced by perceptions of ecosystem services as well as by climate change, markets and policies. The impact of the resulting land use and land cover pattern on ecosystem services and biodiversity is investigated in case study regions in South Korea, Ethiopia, Costa Rica and Switzerland. We mainly use spatial modelling, remote sensing and surveys.

On a global scale we are interested in the relevance of commodity and financial markets for ecosystem services and biodiversity. A main goal is to develop further the method of Life Cycle Assessment with respect to land use impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The other is to assess trade flows of commodities, land use effects and its impact on the global ecosystem services.

Much of our research aims at supporting decision-makers in their attempt to manage product systems and landscape systems with respect to land use, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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The main areas of research within the group are:

  • Decision-making: Empirical analysis of actors supplying and demanding ecosystem services
  • Regional human-environment systems: Mapping and modelling of land use, biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Global trade: Assessing virtual land flows and ecosystem impacts
  • Environmental finance: Assessing risk and opportunities of financial instruments
  • Tools: Integrating land-use, biodiversity and ecosystem services into Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

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