Lilian Busse

German Environment Agency (UBA), Vice president
Lilian Busse is a biologist by training and she has expertise in algae, both in freshwater and marine environments and in eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems. She has worked at the University of California in Santa Barbara and San Diego, USA. From 2006-2015 she was a scientist at the California Environmental Protection Agency. From 2015 until 2021, Lilian Busse was leading the division of Environmental Health and the Protection of Ecosystems at the German Environment Agency. Since 2021, she is the vice president of the German Environment Agency.


Bridging the Gap between Science and Policy for Healthy and Resilient Ecosystems
The German Environment Agency gives policy advice to German and European decision-makers in order to protect and restore terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The policy advice is based on applied research that we are conducting together with research partners in the field of sustainability, chemicals and the impacts on ecosystems. In addition, the German Environment Agency carries out enforcement for different classes of chemicals and is thus regulating chemicals and their effect on ecosystems. Our work directly supports the goals of the German Ministry of the Environment as well as the goals of the European Green Deal, including the Zero Pollution Ambition. We are also developing and supporting national regulations and strategies. Currently we are in the process of establishing the National Centre for Environmental and Nature Conservation Information, a central point of access for information on the environment and nature conservation. The presentation will include examples of resarch and policy advice and will also highlight potential obstacles. We will show the process on how to bridge the gap between science and policy for healthy and resilient ecosystems.

Lenore Fahrig

Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

Lenore Fahrig is Chancellor’s Professor of Biology and co-director of the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Research Laboratory at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Dr. Fahrig is a highly-cited researcher. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Guggenheim Fellow, and she is recipient of the Distinguished Landscape Ecologist Award from the North American Association for Landscape Ecology, the President’s Award from the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, and the Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, Canada’s top award in Science and Engineering. For decades, Dr. Fahrig and her students have studied the responses of wildlife, including plants, arthropods, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, to human-altered landscapes. Her research combines simulation modelling with field data to evaluate the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation, road density, and the spatial configuration of farmlands and cities, on species distribution, abundance and diversity.

(Photo: BBVA Foundation)


How (not) to prioritize habitat for conservation
Our most effective means of protecting biodiversity is to protect the natural habitats on which species depend. Exactly which habitats to protect has been the subject of discussion and debate for decades. Two principles that have made their way into many conservation plans are: large areas are prioritized over small areas, and areas with low edge-to-area ratio are prioritized over more ‘edgy’ habitat areas. While these principles may be relevant at the scale of individual habitat patches, they do not translate, or scale-up, to a landscape scale. For a given total habitat area, landscapes containing many small patches of habitat do not harbour fewer species, or fewer threatened species, than landscapes containing few large patches. Local negative or positive responses to habitat edges do not indicate the same responses to edgy landscapes. Such extrapolations from local- or patch-scale patterns to landscape-scale patterns fail because they do not take into account landscape-scale processes. Global biodiversity protection will require protecting and restoring sufficient habitat in each of the world’s ecoregions. Applying patch size and edge density criteria to this effort constrains opportunities and hinders biodiversity protection.

Vojtech Novotny

Institute of Entomology, Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Science, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

Vojtech Novotny is a tropical ecologist interested food webs, ecological succession, and biodiversity conservation in tropical rainforests. He is the Director of the Institute of Entomology (Czech Academy of Sciences) and a professor of ecology at the University of South Bohemia. He works mostly in Papua New Guinea where he founded the New Guinea Binatang Research Center.


Rainforest regeneration: experiments in Papua New Guinea
Ecological succession in tropical rainforests is a germane theme for fundamental ecological research. We have a reasonably good, but not perfect, theoretical framework to understand and partially predict successional trajectories, while our understanding of successional mechanisms remains limited. At the same time the share of young successional stages in tropical rainforests keeps increasing as a result of growing intensity of anthropic disturbance, making rainforest regeneration a prominent theme of applied conservation. The analysis of succession trends under changing climate also promises to be an interesting, global-scale ecological experiment with some practical impact. These are sufficient reasons to refocus our research on rainforest succession. That research has been done traditionally mostly by observing the course of succession in various natural and unnatural settings. More recently, the ecologists have come to the conclusions that experimental manipulations are necessary to understand the complex community dynamics. The present talk will outline main approaches to such experimentation and give interesting examples, centered on rainforest manipulation in Papua New Guinea, one of the last tropical areas with rainforests stretching all the way to the horizon.

Esther Turnhout

Professor of Science, Technology and Society at the University of Twente, the Netherlands

Esther Turnhout is professor and chair of Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. She is an interdisciplinary social scientist interested in understanding the interactions and power dynamics between different (scientific and non-scientific) knowledge practices and knowledge-governance relations in environmental and sustainability issues. She has worked on and participated in the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) with a view to critically analysing what versions of nature, biodiversity and sustainability are co-produced in global assessment processes, what courses of action they promote or exclude, and whose interests they serve. These experiences have sparked an interest in exploring ways to transform environmental and sustainability science to support and contribute to transformative change and human and ecological well-being. She has published numerous articles on the biodiversity science-policy interface and other topics in high impact journals, she is the first author of the book ‘Environmental Expertise: Connecting Science, Policy and Society’ with Cam¬bridge University Press and she is co-editor in chief of the interdisciplinary journal Environmental Science & Policy.


Conservation is not saving nature. This is not because we do not have enough of it, or because conservation suffers from a lack of funding or from problems of implementation. The very concept of conservation is a problem since conservation and exploitation are cut from the same wood. In this talk, I will develop this argument zooming in on the role of science in the parallel constitution of nature, its exploitation, and its conservation. It is for this reason that conservation has been powerless to catalyze transformative change, go beyond reproducing the status quo, and move away from offering false stop-gap solutions that do not address the root causes of nature’s ongoing destruction. Although this lack of effectiveness may seem paradoxical because of conservation’s self-identification as a ‘crisis discipline’, the discourse of crisis in fact further facilitates conservation’s failure to safeguard human-ecological well-being because it consolidates what has been termed the post-political condition. For conservation, this post-political condition manifests among others in the continued reproduction of a problematic singular concept of nature and an equally problematic singular concept of scientific truth. I suggest that the politicization and pluralisation of nature and of knowledge about nature are necessary antidotes to this situation; to open up and disrupt the post-political deadlock that conservation science and practice are currently trapped in. I will conclude my talk by discussing what this means for conservation and biodiversity science, and why these suggestions will face resistance.