Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 125–134 | Cite as

Training future experts in “biodiversity and ecosystem services”: a progress report

  • Wolfgang Cramer
  • Uta Fritsch
  • Rik Leemans
  • Sabine Lütkemeier
  • Dagmar Schröter
  • Allan Watt
Case Report


Biodiversity is essential for multiple aspects of human life and well-being, but many current assessments of the functioning of biodiversity and ecosystems, understanding of risks posed by environmental change and the best practice of their management of ecosystems are lacking a unified scientific and conceptual basis. Methods such as scenario analysis, and terms such as ecosystem services, are widely used, but their meaning is understood in many different ways depending on context, user needs and experience of researchers. In order to advance the conceptual basis for ecosystem analysis and management in a rapidly changing world, as well as the ability of young scientists to reflect upon these concepts, we have organised five 2-week-long summer schools in Peyresq, a remote village in the Southern French Alps. In total 173 participants have worked intensively with 69 experienced researchers and a team of conveners and tutors in order to discuss a broad range of views on topics on ecosystem analysis and functioning. Topics ranged from conditions of and threats to various ecosystems due to environmental change, models and scenarios for assessment, stakeholder perceptions and needs for information, to the social and economic contexts for biodiversity. We report our experience from these schools, present the training concept which has emerged from them and suggest lines of further development.


Biodiversity Ecosystem assessment Environmental change Summer school 



The Peyresq summer schools would not have been possible without the generous support of the private charity foundation “Peyresq Foyer d’Humanisme”, owner of the buildings used in Peyresq and provider of all local services, based in Bruxelles (Belgium) and directed by a board under the leadership of Mme Mady Smets, Bruxelles. On behalf of the foundation, we also received generous and never-failing support by Dr. Monique Lejoly and Mr. Jean Vancompernolle. Several local staff members have provided enormous help in Peyresq—we particularly want to mention Mme Sylviane Garcia and Mme Sylviane Illy. The excursion was developed together with Dr. Fabien Quétier (Córdoba, Argentina) and supported by the Parc naturel régional du Verdon (Ilias Zinsstag and Gwenaël Barreteau). The summer schools were supported financially by the EU FP5 Concerted Action AVEC (Integrated Assessment of Vulnerable Ecosystems under Global Change, EVK2-CT-2001-20010), the EU FP6 Network of Excellence ALTER-Net (A Long-Term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network,, GOCE-CT-2003-505298), the START programme, the Inter-American Institute, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. On behalf of ALTER-Net, a “school board” assisted in developing the summer school, under the leadership of Mr. Karl Baadsvik (Trondheim, Norway). We once again want to thank all participants and speakers for their personal contributions. We dedicate this paper to the memory of two summer school participants, Marco Hille and Juan Peña, who died terribly early in their promising careers.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang Cramer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Uta Fritsch
    • 1
  • Rik Leemans
    • 3
  • Sabine Lütkemeier
    • 1
  • Dagmar Schröter
    • 4
  • Allan Watt
    • 5
  1. 1.Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)PotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Centre Européen de Recherche et d’Enseignement des Géosciences de l’Environnement (CEREGE)Aix-en-ProvenceFrance
  3. 3.Department of Environmental SciencesWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Umweltbundesamt GmbHViennaAustria
  5. 5.Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)EdinburghUK

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