Over the last decades, the lowlands of Jambi province in Sumatra (Indonesia) have undergone a major transformation from forests towards a cash crop-dominated landscape of rubber and oil palm plantations. EFForTS is a collaborative project of more than 160 researchers that investigate the ecological and socio-economic effects of such transformation focusing on smallholder systems. The goal of the project is to understand and possibly find ways how to support biodiversity and ecosystem functioning while serving human needs. Here, I will give some general background on the project and then focus on EFForTS-ABM, an integrated ecological-economic land-use change model. EFForTS-ABM is spatially-explicit and follows a combined agent-based and grid-based approach. Household agents own agricultural fields within a forested landscape and take economically-driven farming decisions that affect diverse ecological and socio-economic functions. EFForTS-ABM is equipped with EFForTS-LGraf, a landscape generator that not only generates input maps for EFForTS-ABM, but serves also as a stand-alone tool for specific landscape-scale analyses. Model structure and parameterization are based on field data from multiple EFForTS projects. Our guiding question is what kind of landscape mosaic optimizes the ensemble of biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and economic benefit.
My interests revolve around spatial ecology, biodiversity, as well as ecological-socioeconomic land use systems. My first project was a population viability analysis of an Australian gecko species. In the last 20 years, my work has broadened to savannas, forests, grasslands, and agricultural landscapes. My methodological emphasis is on (spatially explicit, individual-based) simulation models and spatial statistics (point pattern analysis, of location of individuals). After having worked at a range of universities and research institutes across Germany, USA, and Israel, I’m professor for ecosystem modelling at the University of Goettingen (Germany) since 2009.