Biodiversity+: Collaborative capacity building for plant biodiversity research and preservation in oasis ecosystems of Pakistan

Take a look at the recent research activities in highland oasis systems of Pakistan that have led to two insightful Master's theses by Mareike Köster and Franziska G. Lehr (aka Pancha) on innovation/transformation processes and women's livelihoods, respectively, using cultivation, processing and marketing techniques in apricot farming to better understand past and current societal processes and changes.



Despite Pakistan’s legal support of the Convention on Biological Diversity by its Biodiversity Action Plan since the early 2000, the national conservational frameworks lack effective implementation in halting the loss of plant genetic resources in natural ecosystems and traditional agro-ecosystems. Studying biodiversity of neglected and underutilized species (NUS) and in particular defining drivers of change, contributes to promoting and protecting NUS species and their associated landscapes/ecosystems and social-ecological interactions. This not only aims at conserving and sustainably managing/using, and cultivating NUS ex situ, but also contributes to knowledge about and thus informed preservation of the cultural integrity of groups (ethnic minorities, women) collecting and/or cultivating NUS.

Persons in Charge

Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences (FB11, Witzenhausen), Organic Plant Production and Agroecosystems Research in the Tropics and Subtropics (Prof. Dr. Bürkert) and Tropenzentrum (Dr. Wiehle)


The core element of the program is the exchange of students and teachers as well as provision of a facilitating environment to conduct field data collection and lab analyses. Per year up to 2 Pakistani and 2 German students can visit the partner instituion for training sessions, data collection periods, and thesis write-up. For students from MNSUA, Multan, up to 4 months; for students from University of Kassel up to 1 month. Communication language is English.

Stipend rates and lump sums for students* enrolled at University of Kassel:

  • 1175 € travel lump sum
  • 861 € one-month stipend


Students holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher in agricultural, natural and related sciences are invited to apply. The following criteria are mandatory for the application process

  1. Motivation letter
  2. CV
  3. Outstanding academic performance (among the 25% best graduate students of one academic year, optional: contribution to science such as (co-)authorship in a relevant peer-reviewed international journal paper). Please provide up-to-date transcripts of record and certificates.
  4. Knowledge of English at the B2 level (TOEFL or IELTS or equivalent proofs)
  5. Filled and signed application form (please request by writing at

Biodiversity+ attaches great importance to avoid discrimination based on personal and social grounds. A balanced share of female and male graduate students is envisaged. Potential applicants from disadvantaged groups are specifically invited to apply. When applicants of disadvantaged groups share comparable professional qualifications, they will be given priority.