Wildlife, values, justice: Reconciling sustainability in African protected areas

For humans and wildlife, land is a scarce resource that gradually degrades through increasing demands for natural goods. As a consequence, loss of biodiversity and ecological functions threatens to affect human well-being. The International Convention on Biological Diversity stipulates protected areas as cornerstones to counteract this trend. However, due to inadequate governance, low effectiveness in terms of ecological and social outcomes challenges the sustainability of many protected areas. Thus, solutions are needed to improve conservation and increase human well-being in protected areas. This project will investigate these global problems through a holistic view on protected areas as social-ecological systems in two developing countries of the global South that are important for biodiversity conservation: Zambia and Tanzania.

By an interdisciplinary approach, we will interlink social and ecological system conditions by i) considering procedural justice in the governance of protected areas, distributive justice of the ecological goods and services derived from protected areas and the underlying value system that shapes the attitude of justice towards nature; ii) explore biodiversity outcomes by considering large mammals, butterflies and landscape connectivity. Using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and multispectral cameras, the potential for automatized image recognition will be investigated in order to measure conservation effectiveness in protected areas.This novel approach serves as a global pilot study for wildlife counts.

Overall, the project will advance our understanding of protected areas as arenas to navigate social-ecological dynamics towards resilience and sustainability.

Project Data

Sta­tus:                 On­go­ing
Pe­ri­od:                 01.07.18 → 30.06.23
Par­ti­ci­pants:       Prof. Dr. Jac­que­line Loos, Pas­cal Fust, Simon Thomsen, Rhoda Kachali, Richard Giliba
Fun­ding:              Ro­bert Bosch Foun­da­ti­on

Conservation of the endangered Danube Clouded Yellow butterfly (Colias myrmidone) in Natura 2000 sites of Romania

Romania is one of the last strongholds of the Danube Clouded Yellow (Colias myrmidone), which is a critically endangered European butterfly species. Knowledge gaps of the ecology and the underlying drivers for its decline hinder the development and implementation of suitable management plans. Through investigations on the ecology of this once widespread species and simultaneous investigations on land use practices and aspirations of local farmers, we seek to derive management recommendations for Natura 2000 areas that meet the requirements of the butterfly and the needs of the local people.

Project data

Sta­tus:                 On­go­ing
Pe­ri­od:                 01.04.18 → 30.09.21
Par­ti­ci­pants:       Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Loos, Matthias Dolek, Peter Lengyel, Csaba Vizauer, Agnes Kastal
Fun­ding:              German Federal Environment Ministry's Advisory Assistance Programme (AAP) for environmental
                             protection in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia and other
                             countries neighbouring the European Union. Supervised by the German Federal Agency for Nature
                             Conservation (BfN) and the German Environment Agency (UBA). Additionally, European Butterfly Group
                             (EBG) provides support.

A biodiversity hotspot faces intensification of viticulture: the role of fynbos remnants for the conservation of plants and butterflies

Biodiversity hotspots are global priority areas for nature conservation, as they contain numerous endemic species and have lost much natural habitat in the past. One example is the Fynbos biome within the Cape Floristic Region in South Africa, which is under pressure due to land-use change. Here, viticulture increasingly expands into remnants of Renosterveld vegetation, with unpredictable consequences for the associated fauna. Whether an integrative conservation approach may offer solutions both for biodiversity and human well-being in these landscapes is yet unexplored and would need profound understanding of the complex social-ecological interactions.

Through the lens of interdisciplinary landscape sustainability science, this project uses butterflies as target species, because they are of high conservation concern and offer great potential for ecological and ethno-cultural studies. We test biodiversity patterns of butterflies in response to different and interacting biophysical and socio-economic settings. Moreover, by using butterflies as boundary objects between human and nature in this study, we unravel the underlying intrinsic values which humans assign to biodiversity.

This research project aims at understanding both the responses of species towards their environment and the underlying mechanisms that drive anthropogenic land-use change. The outcome delivers scientific evidence on how to best shape ecologically meaningful and socially acceptable solutions for a sustainable land management in one of the most important biodiversity hotspots on Earth.

Project data

Status:                 Completed
Period:                 2017 → 2021
Participants:       Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Loos, Emmeline Topp, Katharina Talanow, Stephanie Burghardt
Collaborators:     Prof. Dr. Berta Martin-Lopez, Prof. Dr. Les Underhill, Dr. Dave Edge
Funding:              German Research Foundation (DFG)