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Ecosystem Services

Sustainable Use of Ecosystem Services under Uncertainty. Ecological-Economic Modeling and Evaluation of Economic Policy Options


Project period: February 2007 - July 2010


Project description:

We investigated the sustainable use of ecosystem services under uncertainty. The focus of our research was the ecological-economic dynamics that results from the interaction of ecological uncertainty (variable environmental conditions, stochastic ecological processes) and socio-economic mechanisms and institutions for coping with uncertainty (ecosystem management, economic actions, political measures).

The primary objectives of our research consisted in

(i) the development of an operational sustainability criterion that takes into account coupled ecological-economic dynamics and uncertainty,

(ii) the characterization of basic principles of sustainable use of ecosystem services under uncertainty, and

(iii) the development of economic policy recommendations in accordance with sustainability.

We developed a criterion for strong sustainability which builds on the concept of viability. In order to evaluate options for sustainability politics against this criterion we employed stochastic and dynamic ecological-economic modeling. As a representative case study we investigated grazing management in Namibia. In order to ensure an empirical foundation of our results and to produce meaningful recommendations for the economic and political practice we worked closely with farmers, agricultural unions and governmental institutions. 


Scientific collaborators:

UFZ – Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig, Germany


Partner organizations:

Namibia Agricultural Union, Windhoek, Namibia

Namibian Agronomic Board, Windhoek, Namibia 

Agra Co-operative ltd., Windhoek, Namibia 


Contact persons: Prof. Dr. Stefan Baumgärtner, Roland Olbrich.


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