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Institute of Soil Landscape Research

Institute of Land Use Systems

Institute of Landscape Biogeochemistry

Institute of Landscape Systems Analysis

Institute of Landscape Hydrology

Institute of Socio-Economics

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Core Topic II: Land Use and Impacts

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Dr. A. Wurbs
T +49 (0)33432 82-311

​In light of a growing global population and the increasing importance of renewable raw materials, the Senate Commission of the DFG emphasized the significance of a resource-efficient increase in land productivity in its 2014 policy paper on future options of German agricultural ecosystem research. The commission suggests expanding the perspective to include options “which emerge from the spatial and temporal diversification of production systems while accounting for site characteristics, the landscape context and climate change.”

The research in Core Topic II therefore deals with agricultural production in a landscape context, with explicit consideration and utilization of the diverse feedback mechanisms operating at various spatial and temporal scales in agricultural landscapes. Based on natural-scientific relationships, partially studied in Core Topic I, the objects of investigation in Core Topic II are individual management measures in their role as controlling variables.

Climate change, trends in prices, changes in demand, the governance of agricultural landscape use as well as technical developments and other socio-economic trends are considered as exogenous driving forces. Agricultural and forest landscape use are shaped by these drivers and are at the same time interacting with ecosystems and the entire landscape. Land use also benefits from ecosystem services such as element cycling and water regulation, while providing services like the maintenance of the cultural landscape.

Knowledge of the impacts of different land-use systems on the provision of ecosystem services and biodiversity is the precondition for assessing the effects of intensified agricultural and forest production, potentially relevant in the context of food security or the expanding bio-economy. Process understanding and models from Core Topic I are also applied when analyzing cause-effect relationships. Adaption options at farm and regional levels with respect to changing conditions are analyzed in relation to land-use systems, patterns and intensities, and their impacts on ecosystem services and biodiversity are estimated and evaluated.

Indicator systems are developed for impact assessment and the evaluation of land-use changes. These indicator systems aggregate individual analytical results into knowledge relevant for action and decision-making. This is subsequently used to derive various land-use options aiming for resource protection and efficiency and contributing to the maintenance and promotion of biodiversity. However, due to the different stakeholders and interests involved, land use also has an inherent potential for numerous conflicts. These conflicts and the respective solutions by means of different governance approaches are dealt with in Core Topic III. In addition, the interdisciplinary concept of ecosystem services links the research in Core Topics II and III.


More Core Topics

Core Topic I: Landscape Functioning

Core Topic III: Land Use Conflicts and Governance

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