Conference Agenda

113R: The role of biodiversity in the relationship between people and land + Land systems for conservation science - Part B
Friday, 26/Apr/2019:
3:00pm - 4:15pm

Session Chair: Markus Fischer
Session Chair: Davnah Payne
Session Chair: Tobias Kuemmerle
Session Chair: Yann le Polain de Waroux
Location: MB-201
Main Building, room 201, second floor, east wing, 154 (+22) seats
Session Topics:
What are the visions for the planetary land system?

Session Abstract

Recent work by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and other consortia on the link between people and nature has served to illustrate the key role biodiversity plays in supporting human wellbeing through ecosystem functions and services, and the importance of nature for human subsistence. Land systems sciences in turns have contributed with extensive knowledge on the link between people and land and on how land governance and land-use decisions likely affect the trajectory of social-ecological systems and their biodiversity in the face global changes. Biodiversity therefore occupies a unique position in that its status and trends are both determinant for human wellbeing and people’s livelihood and simultaneously largely determined by land use decisions and policies made by and for people. Developing visions for the sustainable use and management of land and supporting transformation in response to global changes therefore calls for a critical understanding of the role of biodiversity in the relationship between people and land and its importance for land system sciences. This session on the role of biodiversity in the relationship between people and land invites contributions from comparative, experimental, synthesis, scenario, modeling and assessment approaches towards a common understanding of the role of local to global drivers of change in biodiversity, and of the consequences of these changes for land systems, their study, and their governance. ****** Land use change is and will continue to be, the main driver of biodiversity loss, yet the systemic and complex nature of land use remains widely underappreciated in conservation science and practice. This translates into conservation actions that are less effective and less aligned with other land-use goals than they could be. Land system science has developed a range of concepts, approaches and datasets that could greatly enrich conservation science if better integrated. For example, the identification of typical land systems and pathways of change can help to structure the sometimes-overwhelming diversity of land-use actors, land-use practices and socio-ecological contexts. In particular, since land systems are linked to distinct portfolios of threats, identifying such portfolios provides opportunities to understand the occurrence of threats, and the interactions and feedbacks among them. Moreover, the increasing emphasis in land system science on decision-making at the level of actors provides new avenues for assessing how land-use actors relate to diverse threats, how conservation action and outcomes can influence their land-use decisions, and thus ultimately what determines effective conservation. Finally, the increasing focus on linking place-based and network-based analytical lenses in land systems science provides means to assess the importance of distal factors in shaping geographies of local threats to biodiversity and reveal new entry points for conservation action, such as through supply-chain mechanisms. This session explores new concepts and approaches to shift to a more systemic consideration of land use in conservation science. This will highlight how a land systems paradigm can help to better understanding threats to biodiversity, how to effectively address them, and where and how conservation opportunities emerge. As such, this session strongly relates to all three themes of the conference, but particularly to theme 1, as it will discuss new ways to analysing conservation challenges in land systems, and theme 2, as it will discuss new concepts and showcase applications how to navigate biodiversity/land-use trade-offs in land systems.

External Resource: - SESSION RECORDING -
Full talk
ID: 446 / 113R: 2
113R The role of biodiversity in the relationship between people and land
Keywords: Biodiversity, Nature's Contributions to People, Drivers of Biodiversity Change, Governance

Insights of the IPBES regional assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services for Europe and Central Asia

Markus Fischer

University of Bern, Switzerland

The presenting author represents and acknowledges the IPBES expert group elaborating the Europe and Central Asia assessment. Based on requests of IPBES member governments this assessment was elaborated by a team of more than 120 authors from 2015 to 2018. It shows, based on about 4000 sources, that nature provides broader contributions to people than acknowledged earlier. Further it shows that, while food production and energy biomass have increased, most other contributions decreased over recent decades. While high biodiversity would be required to provide multiple contributions of nature to people, the biodiversity of marine, inland surface water and terrestrial habitats and taxa also declined largely. Most of these trends were due to land and water use, and climate change, while pollution and invasive species also played important roles. The assessment report further shows that most scenario studies of future development suggest further declines in biodiversity and nature's contributions to people and they suggest that climate change will become an even more important driver of change. These scenario studies also suggest that the contributions of the Europe and Central Asia region to the Aichi Targets and to the Sustainable Development Goals relevant for the scope of the assessment are unlikely to be met. The assessment concludes by providing information on potential pathways and opportunities for decision makers toward a sustainable future. These opportunities include mainstreaming biodiversity, integration among sectors, and participation of multiple actors in governance.

Full talk
ID: 604 / 113R: 3
113R The role of biodiversity in the relationship between people and land
Keywords: biodiversity, land use, ecosystem function, ecosystem services, forest, grassland

The Biodiversity Exploratories: Linking land management and biodiversity change to ecosystem processes and services

Peter Manning1, Markus Fischer1,2, The Biodiversity Exploratories Consortium1

1Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre; 2University of Bern

Land use intensification is a major driver of global environmental change. By affecting the biodiversity of organisms that regulate ecosystem function the supply of ecosystem services is also affected. Such relationships are complex but must be understood if we are to effectively conserve biodiversity and promote landscape multifunctionality. However, only through the analysis of large and integrated datasets can we address these questions in a general and comprehensive way.

The Biodiversity Exploratories project started in 2006. At 150 temperate grassland and 150 forest sites, which span a range of land-use intensities, hundreds of researchers across 45 subprojects, have addressed the same guiding questions in a common study design (

In grasslands, land-use intensification reduces the biodiversity of most taxa. Most of the accompanying changes in grassland ecosystem processes appear negative from an anthropogenic viewpoint, and the effect of grassland land use on many ecosystem processes is mediated by biodiversity loss and changes to the community composition of many taxa. In forests, various components of management affect forest structure, biodiversity and ecosystem processes, and many of the changes to ecosystem processes are mediated by changes in forest structure or biodiversity. Important conclusions are that land use - ecosystem process relations are strongly mediated by biodiversity loss and changes in community composition; that relationships between various facets of land use, biodiversity and ecosystem processes are constrained by trade-offs, and that these relationships appear less straightforward in forests than grasslands. Finally, our results show that the maintenance of high levels of diversity and ecosystem function at the landscape scape requires land to be managed under a range of intensities and uses.

Flash talk
ID: 531 / 113R: 4
113R The role of biodiversity in the relationship between people and land
Keywords: mountains, biodiversity, human wellbeing

The role of biodiversity in the relationship between people and land in mountains

Davnah Payne, Mark Snethlage, Eva M. Spehn, Markus Fischer

Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment, Switzerland

Mountain ecosystems are globally distributed environments that provide considerable societal benefits. However, mountains are increasingly exposed to changes in climate and land use, environmental pollution, large-scale political and socio-economic transformations, and unsustainable management of natural resources. In the face of the growing challenges brought about by human activities, effective policies and management approaches are needed to safeguard the natural assets that are underpinning human wellbeing in mountains and the essential capacity of mountain ecosystems and their biodiversity to support human populations along the elevational gradient from the highlands to the lowlands. The formulation and implementation of contextually relevant policies and approaches require a thorough understanding of how mountain biodiversity and ecosystems contribute to human wellbeing from local to global scale and how land use decisions made to accommodate growing populations in their need for vital space and resources determine the spatio-temporal trajectories of mountain biodiversity and ecosystems.

Here we report on a survey we performed to collect information on the link between biodiversity and human wellbeing in mountains worldwide, using the framework of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Questions pertained to (i) the status of and trends in mountain ecosystems, the ecosystem services they deliver, and the wellbeing of their populations; (ii) the status of and trends in the direct factors driving the observed changes in these key components; (iii) the contribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services to human wellbeing; and (iv) the governance of natural resources. Despite the numerous challenges associated with the 141 responses we received, the data reveal interesting links notably between biodiversity, ecosystem condition, and human wellbeing, and informative geographical patterns. We conclude with an outlook on how these data will inform further research on the role of mountain biodiversity in achieving sustainable natural resource management in evolving land systems.

Flash talk
ID: 347 / 113R: 5
113R The role of biodiversity in the relationship between people and land
Keywords: wetland restoration, vegetation, biodiversity values, bioindication

Quantifying effects of conservation measures on plant biodiversity over 43 years using repeated vegetation mapping

Weier Liu1, Sanderine Nonhebel1, Ab Grootjans1, Henk Everts2

1Center for Energy and Environmental Sciences, ESRIG, University of Groningen, The Netherlands; 2EGG Consult, Groningen, The Netherlands

Peatlands support rich biodiversity with unique values. However, this diversity is suffering severe losses due to intensive land uses including agriculture. Plant biodiversity strongly responds to land use changes and is a good indication for ecosystem health. The Drentsche Aa brook valley in the northeast of the Netherlands was intensively used for agriculture. Since 1965, conservation measures, including termination of fertilization and raising groundwater levels, have been carried out in order to restore species-rich meadows and fens. The results have been monitored through repeated vegetation mapping of c. 2000 ha study area. The maps have shown increased species richness with over 400 species recorded in 2015. The main question of the present study is how to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the biodiversity conservation in the Drentsche Aa brook valley based on detailed vegetation maps. Three vegetation maps (1983, 1996 and 2016) were reclassified and analyzed with respect to changes in species composition, biodiversity values in terms of naturalness and rarity of plant community types, and associated indication for environmental conditions based on literature data and expert knowledge. Spatial and temporal shifts from the reclassified maps were quantified through transformation analysis. The changes were evaluated in relation to financial investments to reveal the effectiveness of the conservation. Reclassification appeared to be an effective way to extract information from detailed vegetation maps for a spatially explicit evaluation that integrates biological, environmental and financial aspects of wetland restoration.