NormA – Normative Conflicts in the Field of Biodiversity

Rice in the field (© paisan191 /

This research project investigates normative conflicts which potentially arise when using biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Research approach

The aim of the project is to achieve a deeper understanding of conflict potentials and dynamics related to the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The first step will be to develop a research concept that comprises a typology of relevant conflicts, for example competitions between different stakeholder groups with regard to the utilization of natural resources or conflicts of objectives and interests between the preservation of biodiversity and the societal use of ecosystem services. In a second step and based on that, a concept for the operationalization of the empirical study will be developed. With the help of case studies from current research projects of SBiK-F, exemplary normative conflict constellations and entry points for conflict management shall be investigated. Possible case studies are conflicts arising in the context of recurrence of the wolf in Germany or conflicts occurring over the priorities of sustainable water resources management with respect to the renaturation of water bodies.


The social-ecological research is focusing on the investigation of complex dynamics of use that emerge from a societal use of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Through the interaction of natural and societal processes and structures, these dynamics of use are always defined by norms and are thus potentially shaped by conflicts. Examples are contradicting values and ideas of different social groups about a “good life”, disputes over an equitable access to resources and the distribution thereof as well as conflicts over adequate regulations for the sustainable use of biodiversity.

Project partners

  • Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN), Frankfurt am Main (lead)
  • Goethe-University of Frankfurt am Main


  • Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN)
  • Own project of ISOE

The research project is part of the cooperation with the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F). Within SBiK-F interdependencies between shifts in biodiversity and climate change are being investigated. ISOE is a founding partner of the research centre and coordinates the focal field of “Ecosystem Services and Climate”.


Fickel, Thomas/Georg Sunderer/Engelbert Schramm/Hansjörg Graul/Diana Hummel (2024): Farmers' satisfaction and cooperation in conflicts about river restoration in Germany. What influence have economy and participation?. Journal of Rural Studies 108, 103095

Hummel, Diana/Thomas Fickel/Hansjörg Graul/Sophie Peter (2022): Konflikte im Bereich Biodiversität. Normative Aspekte der sozial-ökologischen Forschung. Ökologisches Wirtschaften 37 (2), 36-40

Mehring, Marion/Katharina Geitmann-Mügge/Fanny Frick-Trzebitzky/Diana Hummel (2021): Urban Social Ecology. In: Shackleton, Charlie M./Sarel S. Ciliers/Elandrie Davoren/Marie J.du Toit (Hg.): Urban Ecology in the Global South. Cities and Nature. Cham: Springer, 79-105

Schneider, Florian D./Denise Margaret S. Matias/Stefanie Burkhart/Lukas Drees/Thomas Fickel/Diana Hummel/Stefan Liehr/Engelbert Schramm/Marion Mehring (2021): Biodiversity conservation as infectious disease prevention: why a social-ecological perspective is essential. Global Sustainability 4 (e13), 1-6

Arbieu, Ugo/Jörg Albrecht/Marion Mehring/Nils Bunnefeld/Ilka Reinhardt/Thomas Müller (2020): The positive experience of encountering wolves in the wild. Conservation Science and Practice

Fickel, Thomas/Robert Lütkemeier/Diana Hummel (2020): Biodiversitätskonflikte. Eine sozial-ökologische Perspektive. W & F Wissenschaft und Frieden 38 (4), 26-29

Fickel, Thomas/Diana Hummel (2019): Sozial-ökologische Analyse von Biodiversitätskonflikten. Ein Forschungskonzept. Unter Mitarbeit von Engelbert Schramm. ISOE-Materialien Soziale Ökologie, 55. Frankfurt am Main: ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung


2016/07 – 2028/12