Resources / ecosystems

The research focuses on the following areas: interdependencies between marketable and non-marketable ecosystem services in agricultural production, knowledge expansion in the field of biodiversity economics, trade-offs and synergies between production intensities and overall environmental impact (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation as well as mitigation responses to climate change related risks. The aim is on the one hand to pinpoint sustainable development paths and optimized farm management options for agricultural producers, and on the other hand to provide a scientific basis for efficient environmental policy making in agriculture. The empirical research work has a strong quantitative focus. Basis is a farm level approach that is guided by microeconomic theories and sound conceptual frameworks. In terms of methodology the research group makes use of integrated bio-economic modelling, econometric examination of panel and cross section data and experimental econometrics.


The “Network on Climate-Smart agriculture: Integrating biodiversity and ecosystem conservation (Net-CSA bio)” aims at fostering cooperation in research and teaching between TUM-PuR and scientists from Colombian universities and research institutes. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and focuses on three main pillars: scientific excellence, capacity building, and network enhancement. The scientific pillar focuses on generating relevant research in agricultural, environmental, and resource economics, with particular attention on biodiversity and ecosystem preservation. Capacity building and network activities are enhanced through staff exchanges, a collaborative organization of workshops and summer schools, seminars, and courses, and joint supervision of Ph.D. and master’s theses, with the interaction of Colombian and German researchers and students.

The project builds upon the success of previous cooperation initiatives between PuR-TUM and Colombian partners (Net-CSA) and brings together a consortium that includes EAFIT, EIA University, and the Technological University of Pereira. Local knowledge from both countries is leveraged to investigate how preventive measures and adaptation strategies to climate change in agriculture can be reconciled with practices that protect biodiversity and promote the conservation of ecosystem services. The project focuses on enhancing bilateral cooperation which is crucial to transfer country-specific knowledge and ensuring the exchange of information, ideas, research experiences, and methodological knowledge between the two countries. Net-CSA Bio runs between 2023 and 2025.

For more information contact:

Maria Vrachioli
Roberto Villalba
Philipp Mennig
Juan Pablo Henao

The general objective of the NOVASOIL project is to demonstrate the benefits of investing in soil health for society and the environment. Innovations to improve soil health will be promoted by establishing a network of experts, the experimental design and testing of effective and efficient cooperation models, and the development of contractual frameworks that support the implementation of the models by various actors. The expected key outcome of the project is a toolbox to improve the design and implementation of private initiatives to promote soil health. This toolbox will be developed in collaboration with the expert network and will be based on a number of best practice examples from Europe and other countries, as well as the needs and demands of society. The project consortium consists of a multidisciplinary and Europe-wide team of universities, research institutions and associations. A central component of NOVASOIL are several case studies on established business models or private initiatives, which are based on the promotion of soil health and products from sustainable cultivation and soil management.

NOVASOIL is funded by EU’s Horizon Europe programme.

With increased water scarcity due to anthropocentric and natural causes, the trade-offs and synergies intrinsic to efficiently allocate water resources to various competing uses have become more polarized. Realizing the importance of an integrated approach in water governance, the RETOUCH Nexus project introduces and promotes the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus as a multi-level and cross-sectoral approach that advocates the EU water economy and, in addition, relies on ecological and social considerations. The overall objective of RETOUCH Nexus is to design and foster integrated, innovative and inclusive Nexus-smart water governance schemes and institutional settings to promote a secure water future in the EU, resilient to climate change.

RETOUCH Nexus follows an evidence-based approach to propose, assess and optimize a set of WEFE Nexus smart methods in six different case studies reflecting various cross-sectoral, multi-level and multi-stakeholder water governance contexts. First, the project will monitor water governance by providing a set of Nexus-smart socio-economic and environmental indicators that reflect the cross-sectoral and multi-level nature of water use. Second, RETOUCH Nexus will design integrated and climate-resilient water governance practices that ensure sustainable water systems. It will also develop economic instruments and business models that support robust water management under cross-sectoral competition. Third, RETOUCH Nexus will foster more transparent, inclusive and innovative engagement mechanisms that empower stakeholder and citizen participation in water governance. Finally, RETOUCH Nexus aims to effectively increase the socio-economic and environmental resilience of water governance in Europe by upscaling and endorsing successful and sustainable Nexus-based water governance interventions that will be designed and validated throughout the duration of the project.

This interdisciplinary project brings together experienced researchers and stakeholders from nine European states and 13 different institutions. It starts in January 2023 and will run for 4 years. The TUM Chair of Production and Resource Economics is the project’s coordinator.

RETOUCH Nexus is funded by the EU Framework Programme for Research Horizon Europe. (Dr. Maria Vrachioli)

GRASSWORKS aims to contribute to the comprehensive and global transformation to reversing species and habitat loss and focus on a greater appreciation of grassland biodiversity and its many ecosystem functions and services. The project focuses on three model regions in North, Central and South Germany, over three regions that vary in their economic, social-ecological and socioeconomic contextual conditions. The project is based on the hypothesis that biodiversity restoration success depends on the extent to which projects address the diverse levels of ecological complexity, as well as the social engagement of diverse stakeholders. This is a restoration project in the German FEdA Initiative (Research Initiative for the Preservation of Biodiversity

GRASSWORKS is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Funding period: October 2021 - September 2024

Ponds and "pondscapes" (networks of ponds) are crucial for biodiversity conservation and their multiple societally beneficial ecosystem services (ES) provide the means to play a crucial role in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Due to their small size, the significance of ponds has long been underestimated. However, research over the last 10-15 years has shown that their abundance, heterogeneity, exceptional biodiversity, inherent naturalness and biogeochemical potency help to improve the environmental state at catchment, landscape, and potentially at continental level. Despite their importance, ponds are largely neglected in water- and nature-related policies and there is insufficient knowledge on how to manage and restore ponds to maximize nature-based solutions (NBS) to increase resilience of ecosystems and society to climate change. The overarching objective of PONDERFUL is to generate and integrate biodiversity, ecosystems, social, economic and policy knowledge to design and implement evidence-based, nature-based strategies using pondscapes for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The project brings together experienced researchers and stakeholders from nine European states, from Turkey and Uruguay. It will run for 4 years.

PONDERFUL is funded by the EU Framework Programme for Research H2020. (Dr. Maria Vrachioli, Dr. Amer Ait Sidhoum)

Since the communitarisation of agricultural policy in 1962 the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a central policy area of the European Union (EU). Ever since a big part of the EU budget is used for this area, however, the share of the overall budget has been decreasing continuously over the past years.

Agricultural expenditures are financed by two different funds. Direct payments to farmers and policies to regulate or support the agricultural markets are financed by the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF), while the development of rural areas is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The implementation of the EAFRD funding takes place in a decentralised manner through Member States based on respective “Rural Development Programmes”.

1.5 billion € from the EAFRD are available for Bavaria in the funding period 2014 to 2020. Including Bavarian and national means, the RDP encompasses a total finance volume of approximately 3.5 billion €. .

To assess the impact of the programme and to improve RDPs, the EU requires a careful evaluation. The Chair of Agricultural Production and Resource Economics is responsible for this task in cooperation with the Research Group for Agricultural and Regional Development Triesdorf and Ecozept. Specifically, the chair is focusing on agri-environmental measures as part of the RDP. Based on matching approaches and difference-in-difference estimations, programme effects are being quantified. Suitable indicators help to model environmental effects. Farm-level effects of programme participation will also be analysed.

The project is funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry. (Philipp Mennig)

Tipping points occur in both ecological and the socio-economic systems, and the dynamics of these systems may be linked, such that management of tipping points requires a joint analysis of the combined socio-ecological system. This proposal aims to contribute to a better management and prevention of tipping points, by using a modelling approach that is both guided and tested with data from model regions. We will set up coupled socio-economic, ecological and agricultural models, to understand the conditions under which tipping points in ecological and socio-economic systems are causally linked. The output of the socio-economic models, in particular land-use allocation, will be the input for the agricultural and ecological model. Conversely, the output of these models, in particular biodiversity, yield and ecosystem services, will serve as input for the socio-economic models. Modelling will be guided by scenarios including global change drivers such as climate change but also market shocks or the rural exodus. Our project will focus on tipping points at the landscape scale in the range of 100–1000 square km, to include a mechanistic understanding of land-use decisions. We identified a number of candidate model regions, in Europe, Africa and South America. Scenario development, model set-up, and the test of the modelling using empirical data will be carried out together with stakeholders. The preliminary phase of the project will be used to review the knowledge on coupled tipping points in the socio-ecological system, to develop the modelling framework, and to select model regions for the main phase. In the main phase of the project modelling and empirical tests will be carried out. Model outcomes will be translated into suggestions for management strategies in cooperation with stakeholders.

The duration of the project proposal is 12 month in cooperation with the chairgroups Weisser, Kollmann, Rammig, and Knoke.  (Prof. Dr. Johannes Sauer)

How will ecosystem services and biodiversity develop in Bavaria? The interdisciplinary joint project BLIZ takes a look into the future and designs new scenarios for a sustainable management of ecosystems in Bavaria. The aim of the group of six subprojects at four universities is to process concrete instructions and estimate possible uncertainties.

In subproject 4, the Chair of Agricultural Production and Resource Economics and the Institute of Forest Management (Prof. Dr. Knoke) will analyze the impact of climate change on land use and multifunctionality. The land use change in Bavaria will be analyzed retrospective as well as predictive. Recent changes in the Bavarian landscape will be investigated by means of remote sensing methods. Based on the predictions of the climate-sensitive ecosystem model LPJ-GUESS (subproject 1), decisions of farmers and foresters will be modeled. The results include especially economic motivated as well as multifunctional developments (in consideration of ecosystem services) of future land use options (agroforestry, plantations for fuel wood).

BLIZ is supported and executed as part of the Bavarian network for climate research. (Dr. Denitsa Angelova)

The European agricultural land areas provide important and valuable goods in the form of food, fibre and biomass for the world. They are also crucial for the provision of a number of environmental and climate goods and services. EU member states have implemented agri-environmental schemes, investment grants for environmental technologies, and private actors have established environmental certification and labeling schemes targeting these services. However, many initiatives are arguably not cost-effective in boosting environmental and climate service provision, may be skewed in terms of distributional impacts, increase risks to farmers, or involve excessive transaction costs. The EU H2020 project EFFECT will develop and pilot a theoretically well-founded and empirically well-adapted package of new contractual frameworks. This will enable farmers to reconcile agricultural production with enhanced delivery of environmental and climate public goods and services to the benefit of society at large. EFFECT pursues this through a transdisciplinary effort involving a review of past successes and failures; and development and test of new forms of contracts.

The EFFECT consortium, 20 partners from ten different European countries, combines agricultural and environmental science knowledge with theoretical and empirical insights from law, political science and economics. It further combines efforts from researchers and multiple practice partners and stakeholders to ensure that lessons learned from previous initiatives and the testing of emerging contract frameworks are validated on the ground. The ambition of EFFECT, which is based on the solid experience in the consortium, is to facilitate that co-developed agri-environmental contract arrangements are being put to actual use towards the end of the project. Furthermore, to ensure durable impact of the project, EFFECT initiates a cross European innovation process, supports capacity building among decision making bodies and develops a policy evaluation framework.

The Chair Group of Production and Resource Economics is responsible for the project's fourth work package, which deals with the environmental and economic effectiveness of existing and innovative schemes. (Dr. Amer Ait Sidhoum, Dr. Domna Tzemi)

The overall goal of the project, which is funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research, is to establish a long-term and fruitful cooperation in research and teaching in the fields of natural resource, environmental and agricultural economics between the Chair Group of Production and Resource Economics (PuR) and partners from Colombian universities and research institutes, especially with researchers from EAFIT University.

Two pillars form the basis of the project: scientific excellence and capacity building in terms of human resource development and research network establishment. The scientific aim of the planned research cooperation is to investigate the implications of the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices on-farm performance, ecosystem services and biodiversity for different land-use systems in Colombia. Bilateral cooperation is crucial for the success of the planned research as it is the expertise of the Colombian and German partners in combination with Colombian knowledge about local circumstances that allows pursuing the innovative research idea. The German-Colombian research collaboration will profit from the Colombian peace agreement signed in 2016, thanks to which the security situation in rural areas has returned to normal and is no longer an obstacle to doing research in agricultural, natural resource and environmental economics. While the first pillar of the project, as just briefly described, focuses on a well-defined research idea, the second pillar includes staff exchanges, joint supervisions of Ph.D. theses, workshops on current research topics, excursions and setting up a research network. (Philipp Mennig, Roberto Villalba)

Project partners: Wageningen University (Coordinator), Technical University of Munich, University of Osnabrück and Justus Liebig University Gießen

Funded by the German Federal Environment Agency the project „Sustainable agricultural policy – conserving nature, protecting the environment” develops scientifically based options for the future development of agricultural policy from the perspective of nature conservation and environmental protection. With a focus on Germany and Europe, the project conducts a systematic review of the systemic environmental impacts of agricultural activities. On this base, the project develops a vision for a multifunctional agriculture that is compatible with nature conservation and environmental protection, as well alternative strategic options  which are also assessed. (Prof. Dr. Johannes Sauer)

Climate change and rapid population growth threaten food, water and ecosystem security in the Mediterranean region. The Water-Ecosystems-Food (WEF) Nexus concept builds on the complex (spatial, temporal, institutional, jurisdictional) interdependencies between water, ecosystems and food security as it presents an integrated approach to resource management. The overarching objective of SIGMA-Nexus is to develop climate resilience in the Mediterranean region by proposing sustainability pathways within the WEF Nexus framework. SIGMA-Nexus will analyse the socio-economic and technical characteristics of several case study sites in Egypt and Greece to develop the WEF Nexus for different hydrological, agricultural and environmental settings in the Mediterranean region. This will provide a basis for SIGMA-Nexus’ targeted interdisciplinary efforts to address synergies and conflicts observed in the three facets of the WEF Nexus, to draw lessons from previous successes or failures, to develop frameworks that advocate the efficient, integrated use and management of land and water, and to break disciplinary silos.

SIGMA-Nexus aims to accelerate knowledge diffusion and support decision-making that can minimize conflicts and maximize synergies of cross-institutional and sectoral management of water and land resources through participatory multi-stakeholder engagement activities. The proposed project will design and prioritize Nexus practices that encourage scalability and appraise interventions that balance ecological, socio-economic and natural resource aspects. Finally, SIGMA-Nexus will develop and promote a WEcoF digital innovation portal that will not only promote co-design of Nexus initiatives but also act as a capacity-building tool.

The four year project is funded by the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) and the EU Horizon 2020 programme. (Dr. Maria Vrachioli)