Our work focuses on landscapes -- mosaics of land cover that are inhabited by different organisms, and that are used by local communities in various different ways. We approach the study of landscapes from a social-ecological systems perspective, and we are interested in how landscapes can be managed sustainably. How, for example, can biodiversity be conserved or restored? How can landscapes be governed and managed so that they benefit local communities? What are the relationships between ecosystems and people, and how do they influence one another in both positive and negative ways?

Where We Work

We use a socio-ecological systems perspective to better understand mechanisms that different results in the restoration of ecosystems.
Picture: Nyungwe forest (Rwanda).
Bild einer Landschaft in Ruanda ©Leuphana
Together with (local) partners, we apply a number of methods to investigate the socio-ecological consequences of different development pathways.
Picture: Ethiopian landscape.
Bild aus dem ETH-Coffee-Projekt ©Leuphana
In collaboration with local actors, we explore how to balance social, cultural and ecological aspirations in future scenarios.
Picture: Landscape in Transylvania (Romania).
Landschaft in Transsilvanien. ©Leuphana

How We Work

Much of our work is place-based and solution-oriented. This means that we work in certain focal landscapes, where we try to understand social-ecological complexities from many different perspectives. Taking a social-ecological systems perspective means that, by definition, our work crosses disciplinary boundaries, drawing on both the ecological and social sciences. In addition, for parts of our work we directly work with stakeholders, and so parts of our research are transdisciplinary. In general, the type of work that we do is best done in a small team environment. In small teams, people get to know each other and trust each other, and once trust is established, disciplinary boundaries can easily be crossed in day-to-day collaboration. 

"In small research teams, by contrast, people regularly see each other and get to know one another. The personal trust thus built is tremendously useful in facilitating communication among people as colleagues and maybe even friends: disciplinary boundaries become largely irrelevant in such a context."  (Fischer, Sherren & Hanspach 2014)


For some landscape perspectives on sustainability, check out these papers as background readings: