New Research Field: Ecosystem Services

BECC was formed in 2010 with a vision to create a world-leading interdisciplinary research programme on the links between climate, ecosystem services and biological diversity. Three years later, project leader Håkan Pleijel feels they are almost there.

In 2009, the Swedish Government made funding available for a number of so-called strategic research areas, and announced a call for applications. The University of Gothenburg and Lund University joined forces and turned in an application for their brainchild BECC (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate). Somebody must have liked the idea, because they were granted funding for five years.
‘We talked to Lund about it, and we both agreed that a joint application would be mutually beneficial,’ says Håkan Pleijel, professor at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and coordinator of BECC’s research in Gothenburg. ‘Lund has extensive experience within for example modelling, and we in Gothenburg are good at empirical studies on plants and emissions from the ground.’

The University of Gothenburg is represented not only by the Faculty of Science, but also by the Environmental Economics Unit from the School of Business, Economics and Law. These two players make a great team, says Pleijel.

THE CONCEPT OF ECOSYSTEM SERVICES, introduced by the UN in 2005, refers to the benefits that humankind can derive from nature. Pleijel says that the dependence of fruit trees on bumblebees for pollination is an example of an ecosystem service that may be affected by changes in the environment and the climate.
‘But the notion of ecosystem services has been criticised for being too human-centred, for only focusing on human benefits.’
One aim of the research is to inform the development of for example Swedish forestry and land use policy.

THE RESEARCH GRANTS for the first phase of BECC will expire in 2014. Pleijel is very grateful for the five-year funding plan and is hoping for an extension.
‘We’ve been fully funded only since 2012 and are starting to see some great results. The researchers have been very productive and the many exciting new collaborations have resulted in a number of soon-to-be-published articles. Our work is receiving more and more attention, and I’m proud to say that we’re definitely on the right track to achieving our goal.’

About BECC

BECC stands for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate and is a strategic research area established jointly by the University of Gothenburg and Lund University.

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