We cannot solve the sustainability challenges that threaten our environment without considering the society living in it. Therefore, we conceptualize agricultural landscapes as social-ecological systems, an arena of interplay between nature and society, which have co-evolved and shaped each other and continues to do so.

Second row, standing: Prof. Dr. Tobias Plieninger, Dr. Cristina Quintas-Soriano, Franziska Wolpert, Tianyu Guo, Irene Holm Sørensen, Dr. María García-Martín, Dr. Yves Zinngrebe, front row: Graeme Dean, Pramila Thapa, Malin Tiebel, Dr. Mario Torralba, Nicole Zeuner, Lukas Flinzberger. Not on the picture: Sonja Klinger, Stefanie Bartols, Dr. Christian Bunn, Dr. Miguel A. Cebrián-Piqueras and Dr. Zahed Shakeri.

The overarching aim of our group – which is affiliated with the University of Kassel and the University of Göttingen – is to improve the sustainability of agriculture and other forms of land management through the enhanced understanding of their linkages to biodiversity, ecosystem services, and landscape change.
Our research is rooted in the emerging fields of social-ecological systems, land change science and landscape sustainability science. It exhibits four general characteristics, which together define its interdisciplinary and societal-relevant scope:

1. We address current environmental topics of global relevance with a set of case studies performed at landscape scale. Study areas are strategically selected to span major environmental and land-use history gradients. This allows both a cross-site comparison and the consideration of regional land management regimes.

2. Our research is collaborative and interdisciplinary and bridges natural and social science approaches to ecosystem services, landscapes, and land management.

3. We focus on interactions between multiple ecosystem services: Provisioning (e.g. crop production), regulating (e.g. carbon sequestration, erosion control), and cultural services (e.g. recreation, cultural heritage values). This scope is inclusive and enables analysis of various trade-offs and synergies between land development needs, agricultural and forestry production, biodiversity and the provision of less tangible ecosystem services.

4. Our research comprises basic and applied research and is relevant to various policy areas around land use, landscapes and ecosystem services.

Our group collaborates with networks, institutes and groups that are global leaders in sustainability science, such as the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the Global Land Programme, the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science and the Division of Society & Environment and the University of California at Berkeley.

For further information please visit research gate.