Land use change and the future of biodiversity

Research output: Contributions to collected editions/worksContributions to collected editions/anthologiesResearchpeer-review


  • Carsten Hobohm
  • Carl Beierkuhnlein
  • Christine Börtitz
  • V. Ralph Clark
  • Nadja El Balti
  • Scott Franklin
  • Thomas Gaens
  • Andreas Skriver Hansen
  • Monika Janišová
  • Jan Jansen
  • Martin Lindner
  • Michaela Moro-Richter
  • Volker Müller-Benedict
  • Konrad Ott
  • Karl Christoph Reinmuth
  • Nils M. van Rooijen
  • Matthias Sandberg
  • Joop H.J. Schaminée
  • Cindy Q. Tang
  • Hans-Christoph Vahle
  • Sula E. Vanderplank
This synthesis report is a meta-analysis of perspectives for biodiversity and ecosystems, with a strong focus on human impacts on the environment, and a work order to enable and manage the protection, survival and evolution of all species on Earth. The goal is to protect nature without any further species loss (Zero Extinction). With this report, we assess alarming signals from the environment; determine the needs of threatened biota and the required actions to manage and protect landscapes and ecosystems; and identify some inescapable tendencies, challenges but also possibilities. The story of humans on Earth is at a critical juncture.

Human behaviour is inherently dependent on physical and societal relations, including orientation and positioning within the physical environment. There is no single cultural benefit that is independent of provisioning through ecosystem services. Humans are part of the environment, acquire all needs from it and, as such, depend on its integrity and management for life and well-being. Moreover, if human impacts to the environment continue to increase the risk of rebound effects impacting human life and health will increase as well.

Whenever a biome, ecosystem, habitat or species is heavily impacted or threatened with irreversible transformation or extinction, prevailing environmental conditions are relevant and should be observed, analysed and remedied as necessary and where possible. Ecology examines the evolutionary, historical and more recent interplay between biological life and the abiotic environment, while the role of social science and the humanities is to question the physical and social landscape, and how and why it should be protected or influenced, e.g. by nature conservation measures under political and economic, ethical and legal considerations. Thus, for all inter-relationships between natural and sociocultural processes, a joint venture in the form of social-ecological thinking is necessary to combine natural sciences and the humanities.

With this contribution, we combine ecological knowledge with social science knowledge (s.l.) through the participation of scientists of many different disciplines.

We analyse history and current processes to assess risks, threats and possibilities, and call for an array of regulations and measures that can contribute to halting of biodiversity loss and that assist in achieving a sustainable future. Regulations comprise creativity, cultural incentives, social norms, environmental education and economic investments—such as payments for sustainable agriculture, forestry, and fishery; investments in water, soil and air purity; and much clearer and stronger legal restrictions and consequences around waste streams and environmental degradation.

Moreover, a gradual change from profit-oriented economies in the short-run to environmentally-sensitive policies that include systematic environmental programmes in the long term might help to decrease pressure on ecosystems and biota. Such economics might also include the real costs of consumerism, including the impacts of particular products on the environment and on human health.

The greatest hurdle for the continued existence of many critically endangered species is the impact of widespread anthropogenic-driven change in the usage of water, air and land, and industry intensification in agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, urbanisation, transportation and mining sectors. However, there is not one simple solution to solve these issues. We conclude that many of the current developments have to be adjusted or gradually altered in a step-wise manner, especially with respect to existing sociocultural behaviours. Therefore, various concepts, decisions and measures should be discussed and implemented at all scales from local to supranational and among researchers, practitioners and politicians.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives for Biodiversity and Ecosystems
EditorsCarsten Hobohm
Number of pages33
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2021
ISBN (print)978-3-030-57709-4
ISBN (electronic)978-3-030-57710-0
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Ecosystems Research - Threats to biodiversity, value systems, no species loss, endangered species, endangered ecosystems, challenges and consequences, science for future