Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), or German Research Foundation, supports university established Research Training Groups (RTG). RTGs promote young doctoral researchers and prepare them for careers in scientific inquiry. The RTG Conservation of Forest Biodiversity in Multiple-use Landscapes of Central Europe (ConFoBi), established by Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg presents an inter – and trans – disciplinary biodiversity research and qualification program.
The novelty of the ConFoBi RTG is the combination of the multi-scale, ecological study of forest biodiversity along with social and economic studies of biodiversity conservation. This integrated approach is designed to establish a lively exchange of knowledge and expertise between scientific researchers and forestry or conservation practitioners.
ConFoBi focuses on the effectiveness of structural retention measures, namely habitat trees and dead wood, by using the Black Forest as a system model for multi-use forests in Central Europe. It identifies opportunities for cooperation between forestry and conservation sectors to effectively integrate conservation with conventional forest management.
The research program comprises of 5 modules:
- Multi-Scale Assessment of Structures: providing tools to assess structures ranging from trees to landscapes.
- Structures and Forest Biodiversity: focuses on biodiversity along gradients of forest structure and connectivity to assess linkages between forest structure and biodiversity.
- Human Dimensions of Forest Biodiversity: using social science and economic assessments to analyze opportunity costs and stakeholder perceptions.
- Integration and Translation: learning to facilitate cooperation and discussion between science and society, specifically between conservation scientists and forest managers. Module D will use results from modules A-C to manage relationships between researchers and partners from the forest and conservation sectors.
- Coordination: will be responsible for the coordination of the ConFoBi program and modules A-D.
Research modules A-C study two main questions developed using the ConFoBi framework:
- How does landscape structure effect restoration, and long term conservation, of biodiversity in multi-use forests?
- What are the socio-economic opportunities and obstacles for integrating conservation measures into forest management?
The RTG offers interdisciplinary training, supervision and coaching by experienced researchers in order to:
- Advance doctoral researches’ professional independence
- Develop inter- and trans-disciplinary competence
- Qualify students for leadership roles in and outside academia
- Provide an international network of peers and partners.
Key elements include courses, symposiums, lab visits abroad, and conference participation.