Disaggregating ecosystem services for natural resource management and sustainability: why and how?


In recent years, the concept of ecosystem services has gained traction and has become an important framework for understanding human-nature relations, ecological health, and human wellbeing. Most ecosystem service assessments are aggregated, which can be highly beneficial for estimating the overall value of nature for people, but can also obscure issues of inter and intra-generational equity. Brück et al. (2021) therefore discuss the weaknesses of aggregated assessments and hope to encourage disaggregation in ecosystem services research and policymaking.

The authors defined disaggregated ecosystem service assessments as analyses of ecosystem services by a certain theme, looking at who benefits, from which values, where and when. In their paper, they aimed to produce a systematic approach to the disaggregation of ecosystem service assessments which can support more sustainable and equitable ecosystem service use.

Firstly, Brück et al. (2021) identified four main equity issues that may be “hidden” in aggregate ecosystem assessments: intragenerational…

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Sustainability transformations: fostering co-productive agility through four collaborative pathways


Recently, co-production and transformation have become more common phrases in sustainability science. However, current co-production frameworks often focus on achieving predetermined aims, rather than focussing on the process. Much attention has been given to understanding transformative frames and creating approaches, however the ways in which tensions and conflicts can be navigated in these processes is not well researched. Chambers et al. (2021) therefore looked to current co-production initiatives, to explore how tensions were navigated, and discover “co-productive agility” as a method of broadening collective pathways to sustainable futures.

Figure 1. Co-productive agility for sustainability transformations. (Chambers et al. 2021).

Chambers et al. (2021) refer to co-productive agility, which is the ability of diverse stakeholders to engage in dialogues and create shared ideas and actions that may not have otherwise been possible. This concept involves the embedding of knowledge production in change processes and can reveal pathways to transformation. The authors…

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The Art of Systems Thinking – Christopher Chase

As 2022 is only just starting, it’s a very suitable time to zoom out and scale up. With his permission, I’m re-blogging a post by Christopher Chase here that helps us do precisely that! Enjoy, be sure to visit his blog, and happy new year everyone!

Creative by Nature

“Principles for the development of a complete mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” ―Leonardo da Vinci

Here below are high quality reproductions of some of the “best” artwork and illustrations that I have produced over the last 40 years, most of it during the 1980s and 1990s. I don’t have an artist’s page where these can be purchased, but please feel free to download, print out and share with others, no payment required.

The originals were mostly about 10 x 14 inches (26 X 35 cm) in size. You are free to print out and put up anywhere, any size, framed or unframed, with magnets or tape, on refrigerators or walls. My only request is that you do not sell them or publish without contacting me first.

Is there a…

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What have we done in 2021? Celebrating a year of research in the Social-Ecological Systems Institute


2021 has seen many successes and causes to celebrate within the Social-Ecological Systems Institute (SESI) at Leuphana University and across its collaborations, along with the challenges that emerge from conducting research in a pandemic. This year we have worked hard in SESI to understand and respond to a wide range of social-ecological challenges. In doing so, we have provided better understandings of social-ecological interactions and leverage points that can improve sustainability and justice.

Some of the social-ecological systems in which SESI researchers work.

People in SESI have conducted research on six main topics throughout this year: biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services and nature’s contributions to people, relational values, biocultural diversity, cross-scale governance, and leverage points and transformation. Our blog this year has featured many of the publications and projects targeting those six topics.

Biodiversity conservation has been a central focus for SESI researchers, who have worked in both the Global North…

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How can we create more caring knowledge production? Linking transdisciplinary sustainability science and feminist research approaches in an ethos of care.


Transdisciplinary sustainability science has grown in recent years as a potential answer to sustainability problems and can improve collaborative knowledge production. However, within schools of feminist thought, care structures and relational ethics are seen as significant. Therefore, to increase its transformative potential, transdisciplinary sustainability science needs to consider and combat unequal power relations and top-down scientific constructs. Staffa et al. (2021) aim to contribute to this convergence of feminist and transdisciplinary sustainability knowledge production, by incorporating critical research approaches into the design of transdisciplinary research.

Staffa et al. (2021) were inspired by the feminist ethos of care created by Puig de la Bellacasa (2012), and therefore aimed to apply this to transdisciplinary sustainability science to provide guidance for researchers and helping them to generate critical-emancipatory knowledge. Despite some overlap in these fields, the authors argued that questions of power dynamics, domination and hierarchies in research are often overlooked in transdisciplinary…

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How should we assess protected area effectiveness? Presenting an outcome-oriented, social-ecological framework.


Biodiversity is threatened across the world, and stopping this loss is likely the biggest challenge humanity faces today. Protected areas are used to manage and improve biodiversity but assessing their effectiveness is complex, especially when goals for protected areas become more diverse. Now differing ecological, economic, cultural, and development goals of protected areas have resulted in various indicators and methods for evaluation of effectiveness but multifaceted assessments are yet lacking. Therefore, in a recent paper published in BioScience journal, Ghoddousi et al. (2021) argued that a more holistic and clearer definition of protected area effectiveness is needed, that includes multiple protected area outcomes. The authors created a conceptual framework that is outcome-oriented, multidimensional, and grounded in social-ecological theory.

Protected areas were initially created to maintain ‘wilderness’ and limit extraction, however more and more multiple-use landscapes are promoted as protected areas worldwide to foster sustainable use of natural resources. Therefore, the…

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A Global Conversation: Towards a caring transdisciplinary research environment.


As humans, we care for a great many things. We care for the land and its living creatures, for ourselves, our society, and social injustices, and for the productivity and norms that are expected of us. However, when we look at research communities, and especially social-ecological systems researchers, there is an imbalance in the level of value given to aspects of the research community. Oftentimes, self-care, family time, and our free time is sacrificed for scientific rigour, busyness, productivity, competition, and achievements in the research space.

Graphical recording of the dialogue on a caring ethos for social-ecological systems research by Juliane Höhle.

In this month’s session of the seminar series “Social Ecological Systems: A Global Conversation, the topic of how to implement more caring practices and create a caring ethos for transdisciplinary science was covered, with a focus on current harmful practices, navigating science, society and self, leadership collectives…

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How is Indigenous and local knowledge being lost due to climate change? Exploring tangible and intangible cultural heritage in the face of change.


Human-driven climate change has already begun to lead to loss of life, biodiversity, social cohesion, and cultural knowledge. Indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) and cultural heritage are especially affected, especially the aspects thereof that are not embedded in physical or tangible heritage and are rather abstract. There has been a growth in the past three decades of research into local, traditional, and Indigenous knowledge associated with environmental management. Pearson et al. (2021) therefore created a novel approach by focussing and synthesising literature on intangible ILK and cultural heritage to understand how climate change drives the loss thereof.

The Pacific Climate Warriors, 350 Fiji Day of Action. Image Credits: Jeff Tan.

The authors conducted a systematic review of 100 studies to collect knowledge on the current state of research on ILK and cultural heritage, and how they are affected by climate change, along with identifying knowledge gaps and finding solutions and…

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Postdoc: Social-Ecological Systems / Conservation Science / Landscape Ecology

Note: Below is a job ad (please help distribute it!). I’m looking for a postdoc to join my research team. I have defined the position so that it should be interesting to ambitious candidates who plan a long-term career in academia, and who are looking for a springboard to establish their own research group; in any of the fields listed above. The official job ad lives on the university website.

Leuphana University of Lüneburg stands for innovation in education and scholarship based on the values of a humanistic, sustainable and entrepreneurial university. The collaborative search for knowledge and viable solutions in the areas of education, culture, sustainability as well as management and entrepreneurship defines the university model with its award-winning College, Graduate School and Professional School. Methodological diversity and interdisciplinary cooperation characterize our academic understanding.

The Social-Ecological System’s Institute (SESI) currently has a vacancy for a

Postdoctoral Researcher
social ecological systems/conservation science/landscape ecology (m/f/d)
(salary group EG 13 TV-L).

The position is full-time and is to be filled in as soon as possible for a fixed term of two years. It will be associated with the professorship “Sustainable Landscapes” (Prof. Joern Fischer).

The position has two main objectives, each of which will account for approximately half the number of work hours. The first objective is to support the professorship in research, teaching and administration of the institute, as well as independently teach a small number of courses (3 hours per week during the semester). The second objective is for the postdoctoral researcher to prepare her or his own funding proposals, for which she or he can draw on existing experience within the institute. We specifically seek to support high quality proposals for competitive junior research groups, such as ERC Starting Grants, DFG Emmy-Noether Groups, or BMBF junior research groups in the sustainability or bioeconomy funding streams. The position thus serves to support the professorship but is also a unique opportunity to establish scientific independence; and will strengthen the Social-Ecological Systems Institute in the medium term.

Your tasks:

  • Supporting the professorship “Sustainable Landscapes” as well as the Social-Ecological Systems Institute in research, teaching and administration
  • Preparation and submission of competitive grant proposals, especially for junior research groups (e.g. ERC, DFG, BMBF)
  • Further developing your own academic qualifications
  • Teaching within the areas of conservation science and/or social-ecological systems (3 hours per week during the semester)

Your profile:

  • Completed university degree (Master or equivalent) in a field that is relevant to the Social-Ecological Systems Institute
  • Completed PhD or equivalent in a field that is relevant to the Social-Ecological Systems Institute, ideally less than four years ago
  • Outstanding research and publication achievements relative to the year of PhD completion
  • Teamwork skills and independence
  • Enthusiasm for teaching
  • Excellent communication skills in English

We offer:

  • Flexible and family friendly working hours
  • Internal and external professional training
  • Sports and health courses for employees
  • Employer-funded pension contributions

For questions about the position please contact Prof. Joern Fischer (joern.fischer@uni.leuphana.de).

Leuphana University Lüneburg promotes gender equity and heterogeneity among its members. Applications by disabled persons with equal qualifications will be given preferential treatment. We look forward to your application.

Please take note of our data protection information for applicants (currently available in German only).

Please submit a motivation letter, explain your fit with respect to each point in the position profile in one paragraph each, and also submit your CV and publication list. Please submit your application (without a photo) by 31 December 2021 digitally (as a single, merged PDF file), or by mail to:

Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Personalservice, z.Hd. Mirjam Windolf-Hörr
Kennwort: WiMi Sustainable Landscapes
Universitätsallee 1
21335 Lüneburg

How do wild ungulates contribute to nature and people? Transforming viewpoints of wild ungulates from negative to positive.


Humans and wild ungulates such as horses, tapir, cattle, pigs, deer, and bison have always had closely intertwined histories and these animals provide both positive and negative contributions to people. Wild, and later domesticated, ungulates provided food and other raw materials to humans, yet currently there are large variations in their global population dynamics and their interactions with humans. This need for different management approaches and solutions is reshaping human-ungulate relationships. Better understanding of the positive and negative aspects of human-ungulate interactions is needed to encourage coexistence. Therefore, Pascual-Rico et al. (2021) provided a global literature synthesis to portray these complexities and evaluate management measures more accurately.

A variety of ungulate species providing opportunities for recreation, tourism, and aesthetic enjoyment in the forests of Karnakata (India).

The authors reviewed 575 articles related to human-ungulate interactions to identify key knowledge gaps on nature’s contributions to people associated with wild ungulates. Through…

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