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Professorship of Ecological Services (PES) – Prof. Dr. Thomas Koellner

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New EU project ‘LIBERATION’ – Linking farmland biodiversity to ecosystem services for effective ecological intensification

Management of ecosystem services on a landscape level

Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes is a tragedy of the commons. On the one hand, long-term conservation of the landscape is of joint interest to all farmers as it preserves the very basis of agricultural production. Individually however, farmers tend to maximize short-term economic returns from their own plots, which comes at the cost of landscape deterioration. As a result, shared ecosystem services are collectively degraded.

Identification of common incentives

Only joint efforts by all farmers are capable of solving this dilemma. Shared incentives for such kind of cooperation could come from benefits provided by collective ecosystem conservation measures. For instance, maintaining higher levels of biodiversity can increase overall agricultural production as it fosters ecosystem services such as pollination or natural pest control. Identification of these potential benefits is what is at the heart of the EU project ‘LIBERATION’. In a collaboration of eleven partners from all over Europe, the topic is addressed from the viewpoints of various scientific disciplines ranging from ecology to socio-economics.

Quantifying socio-economic implications of ecological intensification

Socio-economic investigations of the project focus on how trade-offs between farm income, biodiversity and ecosystem services can be optimized - not only with respect to benefits of individual farmers, but also for society as a whole. Therefore, the effects of biodiversity and ecosystem services on income volatility over time are evaluated. This information is used in combination with social surveys investigating farmers’ attitudes toward management practices both already applied as well as newly proposed. Results within ‘LIBERATION’ are meant to inform policy-makers about optimal bundles of agricultural production, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Moreover, it aims at pointing out possible incentives for cooperative management of agricultural landscapes and how much farmers are willing to adopt these – both factors crucial for formulating successful policy schemes.

Project duration & coordination

The European Union promotes ‘LIBERATION’ for a period of 4 years, starting February 2013. Overall project coordination lies with David Kleijn from the Resource Ecology Group at Wageningen University & Alterra, Centre for Ecosystem Studies. Work package 5 ‘Quantifying socio-economic implications of ecofunctional intensification’ is coordinated by Prof. Thomas Koellner from the Professorship of Ecological Services, University of Bayreuth.

For further information please contact Patrick Poppenborg.

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