Managing Biodiversity

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About Biodiversity Management

Biodiversity is now declining faster than at any time in human history. Rates of biodiversity decline today parallel those in periods of mass extinction in the history of Earth. This decline is likely the result of population reductions and increased extinction risks for species, degradation of ecosystems, and loss of genetic diversity. These factors all threaten the diversity of life on Earth and reduces the services we as humans extract from nature.

To address the global and societal challenge, we work at the interface of the natural and social sciences. Our work uses experimental and interdisciplinary approaches to address the challenges of biodiversity conservation across every scale from local to global aiming to further and inform conservation science and policy. Our research builds as much on fieldwork as it does on the utilization of global data sources.

Our research questions

  • How are human activities affecting the structure and functioning of the Earth system?
  • How do we reverse current trends to stay within the safe operating space of humanity?
  • Are conservation interventions effective for conserving biodiversity (e.g. protected areas, community conserved areas, restoration projects, or payment-for-ecosystem-service operations)?
  • What are the ecological, biophysical, and socioeconomic factors that make interventions effective?
  • How are human activities shaping patterns of threat to biodiversity at local and global scales?
  • How do human activities affect species distributions and abundances? 
  • How do economic incentives influence human behavior and the willingness of stakeholders to participate in conservation projects?
  • How do we finance conservation?
  • What are the best approaches to measure and monitor changes in the state of nature and its contributions to people at all scales?
  • What are the roles of new methods, approaches, and citizens in improving monitoring and indicators of biodiversity and biodiversity change?

Research projects

We are engaged in several research projects and activities at CMEC in the pursuit of answers to the above mentioned questions. Some of our research projects within the theme of Biodiversity Management are described below.




We work to preserve biodiversity by predicting global stressors to biodiversity, explore extinction scenarios, and increase our understanding of the need, potentials, and constraints in global and trans-national collaboration. Specific projects include:

Human behavior and global conservation

We use economic laboratory and field experiments with human subjects to explore elicit preferences for conservation under different institutional settings.


Professor Bo Jellesmark Thorsen
Professor Niels Strange

Continued development of The Planetary Boundaries Framework

The Earth functions as a complex system. Throughout its history, the environmental state of the system has been determined by interactions between the Biosphere (all living organisms) and Geosphere (elements and energy). Human activities (the Anthroposphere) are a third driver with the capacity to alter the Earth system state. Together with a large international group of researchers, we are developing the Planetary Boundary framework that identifies a safe operating space for the Anthroposphere, i.e. how much can human activities interfere with critical Earth system processes without this interference leading to unacceptable risk of altering the Earth system?


Professor Katherine Richardson
Professor David Nogués-Bravo
Senior Researcher Jørgen Bendtsen

Managing global nature in the 21st century

International policy and agreements help define regional (EU and Nordic) and national policies and laws, affecting nature on the ground.  We are interested in how decisions made at international level affect conservation delivery (e.g. in protected area networks, the prevention of extinction of species, the sustainable use of nature, or the establishment of community managed reserves). 


Professor Neil Burgess

The extinction scenarios 

We use our existing species distributions data for 20,000 species of vertebrates, together with data on their phylogenetic relationships, to develop realistic extinction scenarios for the 21st century. Our analyses will be based on novel methodologies that combine IUCN-level extinction risk assessments with the next generation of scenarios of climate and land use change for the end of the century.


Professor Carsten Rahbek 


In order to provide a holistic framework for achieving sustainable outcomes, we need to understand and quantify the relations between the human environment and the biophysical environment of nature areas. We explore planning approaches in Denmark and around the world that facilitate decision-making and the valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Our projects include: 

Mapping ecosystem services

We apply a spatial multi-criteria decision model to designate a robust and interconnected network of natural areas in Denmark to map ecosystem services. The project also models the welfare economic benefits from ecosystem services and determines the opportunity cost of setting aside forest and agricultural land for nature protection.


Associate Professor Thomas Lundhede
Professor Niels Strange

No Net Loss of biodiversity

In this project, we seek to have no net loss of biodiversity alongside development. The project explores how biodiversity losses from development are measured, and active conservation interventions are implemented to compensate for the loss. Further, the project addresses the challenges of achieving No Net Loss of biodiversity (NNL), when ecological and social dynamics are taken into account.


Professor Niels Strange

Recreational preference and value

We use economic analysis to explore the welfare economics aspects of biodiversity management in regard to people's preference for forest structures in relation to outdoor recreation across different European contexts, and the recreational values of conserving coral reefs.


Professor Niels Strange
Associate Professor Thomas Lundhede



Conservation science, including habitat and species management, is a broad biological discipline that covers all aspects of understanding how species, habitats, and ecosystem services are changing in a world increasingly dominated by humans. Some of the projects are described below.

Tracking Golden Eagles

In this project, we track golden eagles with GPS technology to understand their movement patterns, habitat requirements and general use of non-breeding. The technology provides the possibility to explore their habitat use and home ranges across the annual cycle. The project also aims to determine the source population to the Danish breeding birds and investigate genetic relationship within the Danish population. 

Read more about the Golden Eagles


Deputy Museum Director Anders P. Tøttrup

The Danish wolf

We study how and why the wolf population is growing and spreading across Europe. Based on this knowledge and data on population and occurrences, we make models to predict wolf dispersal and the number of wolves we can expect in each part of Europe, including Denmark. 

Read more about Wolves in Denmark (in Danish)


Professor Carsten Rahbek

Management and biodiversity of Danish beech forest

We combine experimental approaches to create deadwood and veteran trees with investigations of existing mature beech stands to understand the links between management, habitat diversity and biodiversity in Danish beech forests. The project has a multi-taxa approach (fungi, lichens, bryophytes, vascular plants, insects, birds) and include economic valuation with the aim to develop cost-effective evidence-based management tools for forest biodiversity.


Associate Professor Jacob Heilmann-Clausen
Professor Carsten Rahbek


Highlighted papers

Richardson, K., Steffen, W., Lucht, W., Bendtsen, J., Cornell, S.E., Donges, J.F., Drüke, M., Fetzer, I., Bala, G., von Bloh, W., Feulner, G., Fiedler, S., Gerten, D., Gleeson, T., Hofmann, M., Huiskamp, W., Kummu, M., Mohan, C., Nogués-Bravo, D., Petri, S., Porkka, M., Rahmstorf, S., Schaphoff, S., Thonicke, K., Tobian, A., Virkki, V., Weber, L. & Rockström, J. 2023. Earth beyond six of nine planetary boundaries. Science Advances 9, 37. Download.

Steffen, W., Richardson, K., Rockström, J., Cornell, S.E., Fetzer, I., Bennett, E.M., Biggs,R., Carpenter, S.R., de Vries, W., de Wit, C.A., Folke, C., Gerten, D., Heinke, J., Mace, G.M., Persson, L.M., Ramanathan, V., Reyers, B. & Sörlin, S. 2015. "Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet". Science 347. Download.