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About us

ConFoBi (Conservation of Forest Biodiversity in Multiple-Use Landscapes of Central Europe) is a Research Training Group (RTG) based at the Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg and funded by the German Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG). ConFoBi has two principle aims:

  1. to provide young researchers with qualifications and training towards obtaining their PhD and in preparation for their scientific careers, and
  2. to conduct excellent research. The novelty of ConFoBi's research is the combination of multi-scale, ecological studies of forest biodiversity combined with social and economic studies of biodiversity conservation. This integrated approach is designed to establish a lively exchange of knowledge and expertise between scientific disciplines as well as forestry and 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 into conventional forest management.

The research programme comprises five modules:

    1. Module A – the multi-scale assessment of structures: provides tools to assess structures ranging from individual trees to landscapes.
    2. Module B – structures and forest biodiversity: focuses on biodiversity along gradients of forest structure and landscape connectivity to assess links between forest structure and biodiversity.
    3. Module C – human dimensions of forest biodiversity: uses social science and economic assessments to analyse opportunity costs and stakeholder perceptions.
    4. Module D – integration and translation: learning to facilitate cooperation and discussion between science and society, specifically between conservation scientists and forest managers. Module D uses the results from modules A-C to manage relationships between researchers and partners from the forest and conservation sectors.
    5. Coordination: responsible for the scientific coordination of the ConFoBi programme and modules A-D.

    Research modules A-C study two main questions developed using the ConFoBi framework:

      1. How does landscape structure affect the restoration and long-term conservation of biodiversity in multi-use forests?
      2. What are the socio-economic opportunities and obstacles for integrating conservation measures into forest management?


      Study Area

      The research design of ConFoBi comprises 135 one-hectare plots along two gradients, which are based on GIS data:

        • Fragmentation (measured as the percentage of forest in the surrounding 25km²) and
        • Structural richness (measured as the amount of standing dead wood visible in aerial images).

      The gradients are divided into three classes each, leading to a total of nine unique classes, each holding fifteen study plots. All plots are located in the southern parts of the Black Forest (see map below) and had to fulfil a few additional criteria (e.g. special areas for capercaillie and red deer were excluded). Detailed assessments of the structure of our study plots are currently under way.

      See map in full screen on OpenStreetMap.


      Qualification concept

      ConFoBi offers interdisciplinary training, supervision, and coaching from experienced researchers to:

        • Advance doctoral researchers’ professional independence,
        • Develop inter- and trans-disciplinary competence,
        • Qualify students for leadership roles in and outside academia, and
        • Provide an international network of peers and partners.

      At ConFoBi, we strive to achieve a balance between providing events and courses for the whole team as well as individual support. Past examples include two-day courses on good scientific practice and interdisciplinarity, in addition to regularly-booked courses offered by the International Graduate Academy of the University of Freiburg (IGA).