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University of Gothenburg
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Stina Westsrand looking at Sea Holly
Photo: Allison Perrigo

Our Partners

The GGBC is made up of 17 partner organisations. The diversity of our partner organisations, ranging from academic to public organisations, enables us to provide a wide platform where collaborations among researchers, educators, and stakeholders can thrive.

Meet IVL - the Swedish Environmental Research Institute


Hi John Munthe, Vice President, Research at IVL. Tell us what IVL is, and how its work is connected to the environment and more specifically, biodiversity. 

IVL was formed more than 50 years ago in an agreement between industry and the government with the aim to provide research and consulting services to solve the severe environmental problems of that time – mainly related to industrial emissions to air and water from energy and industry sectors. Today we are an institute with over 300 employees working on environment and sustainability. We still combine research and consulting with the aim to make a difference and contribute to a sustainable society.

Could you give us an example of a project that's currently going on at IVL relating to biodiversity?

In the research program Mistra Digital Forest we are developing the tool BioMapp for analysis and visualisation of sustainability aspects in forest value chains. A key challenge is to develop and apply indicators for biodiversity and to describe how it is affected by forest management and harvest on a landscape scale. We are also engaged in projects focussed on ecosystem services and biodiversity in urban areas and providing assessments and evaluations for industry and authorities. 

And you personally: what does biodiversity mean to you and how is it a part of your work?

I am convinced that a sustainable world is dependent on a “healthy” biodiversity and that we need to work hard to avoid further degradation and loss of species and functions in our ecosystems. I also see a lot of research challenges for example related to how human activities affect biodiversity and to define and set targets for a “healthy” biodiversity. A lot is already known but this knowledge needs to be further developed and synthesised so that it can be used broadly in environmental management activities and to develop measures and plans.

GGBC brings together people working on biodiversity in different ways from a diverse set of partner organisations. What new perspectives do you expect you and your colleagues at IVL will bring to the GGBC?

The partners in GGBC represent a very impressive and broad expertise on biodiversity and our contribution will hopefully be to support and develop how this knowledge and expertise can be put to use and applied in planning and managing use of natural resources and societal development. We are very much focussed on applied research and I hope that our experience in this area will also be of benefit to GGBC.

IVL Swedish Environmental Reserach Institute logo
John Munthe, Vice President, Research at IVL
John Munthe, Vice President, Research at IVL

Meet the Department of Economy and Society at the University of Gothenburg

Marie Stenseke, Professor in Human Geography at the Department of Economy and Society. Can you tell us a bit about some biodiversity research that is going on in your department?

The department hosts three disciplines, but we have a joint research group, Landscape and Planning, with researchers broadly concerned with the interactions between human activities and the environment, seen from a landscape perspective. Per Hallén, Economic history, is doing research on the green areas of Gothenburg, their history and use. Per is also studying the role of fish and fishery in the human society and how that has developed over time. Several of us are human geographers, and at present we are working in projects concerned with: parks and green areas, blue-green infrastructure and nature’s contributions to people in cities (Mattias Sandberg, Shelley Kotze); Sustainable reacreational use of land and water in Mistra Sport&Outdoors (Andreas Skriver Hansen, Marie Stenseke, Oskar Abrahamsson); integrated framework for assessing the consequences of human activities for water quality and biodiversity, EU-funded (Andreas Skriver Hansen, Marie Stenseke). Over the years, we have also had a number of projects on semi-natural pastures, landscape management, marine spatial planning, children and nature). At the same time as we work with mainly qualitative methods, of our research is interdisciplinary and the projects carried out together with scholars in natural sciences.

Your department is the first one from outside of the Faculty of Science at GU to join the GGBC. You are a huge proponent of the benefits of working in an interdisciplinary way.  What do you see as the biggest potential benefit of bringing together the natural sciences with the humanities and social sciences?

Since the contemporary global challenges are complex and interrelated, interdisciplinary cooperations are fundamental for the academia in order to provide knowledge about sustainable ways forward. We need to pair knowledge on the character and magnitude of environmental problems, status and trends with knowledge of socioeconomic drivers, governance, trade, business, how various groups are affected, justice, behaviour, values, norms etc. to come up with robust solutions. This does not mean that all research has to be interdisciplinary. It is crucially important to recognize and make transparent the difficulties with interdisciplinary work that has to be handled. A couple of key issue are lack of understandings of the differences between various scientific strands and lack of insights in what research is ongoing in other faculties. Bringing together scholars from different disciplines, can cure these deficits and build stronger sustainability research together more thoroughly based in previous research.

You are also the Co-chair, Multidisciplinary Expert Panel of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES). How has your time within IPBES influenced your own approach to biodiversity research?

My time in IPBES has certainly increased my interest in how to improve interdisciplinary work in biodiversity research. The issues and challenges I have encountered on this global arena are very similar to the ones I had previously experienced in a more narrow Swedish context. I have developed my insights and strengthened my arguments when it comes to why, when and how to include competences from social science and humanities in biodiversity research, naturally recognizing that scholars from social science and humanities, like myself, also fits to the label ‘biodiversity researchers’.

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Marie Stenseke, professor in Human Geography at the Dept of Economy and Society, GU
Marie Stenseke, professor in Human Geography at the Dept of Economy and Society, GU

GGBC partner organisations

The GGBC is made up of 17 partner organisations. Full partnership involves a written agreement and annual financial contribution to the centre. The current partners include six departments and centres at the University of Gothenburg, as well as eleven external partners from around western Sweden.

At the Department of Biological and Environmental sciences the teaching and research activities stretch from the alpine ecosystem, through forests, cultivated land and streams, all the way into the marine environment. In these environments  different levels of biological organisation from genes, individuals and populations, to communities and ecosystems are studied. The work at the department involves ecology, evolution, physiology, systematics and combinations of these fields in order to understand the impact of natural and anthropogenic changes of the environment.

The Department of Marine Sciences  is Sweden’s most complete environment for marine research and marine education, and is one of only a few such organisations in Europe. With broad and cutting-edge expertise and access to unique marine infrastructure such as research vessels and field stations, the department enjoys excellent conditions for addressing the challenges of the future within marine research and education.

At the Department of Earth Sciences the research and education conducted focuses on how biological diversity interacts with the biogeochemical cycles in different ecosystems and biomes worldwide. At the department they study how biodiversity is affected by ongoing climate change and the feedbacks to the atmospheric greenhouse gas balance. An important part is to link the empirical studies to the development of models on both ecosystems and on a global scale.

The Department of Economy and Society educates and conducts research within three subject areas. These are Economic History, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management of Intellectual Assets, and Human Geography.

The Centre for Sea and Society was inaugurated 1st of July 2015 and will become the new entry point to all marine and maritime activities within the University of Gothenburg. Lena Gipperth, Professor of Environmental Law at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, is director of the new centre supported by a steering committee with representatives from all faculties. The mission of the Centre for Sea and Society is to among other things to initiate, stimulate and develop transdisciplinary research and education within the marine/maritime field and also to become the entry point to all marine and maritime activities and increase visibility.

Herbarium GB is an infrastructure for biodiversity research at the University of Gothenburg. Today it holds more than one million specimens. The collections reflect the research activity that has been undertaken within plant and fungal systematics at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences during the years. The collection also includes a smaller part of algae. In addition, Herbarium GB harbours collections of plant, mosses, fungi and lichens from inventories undertaken by the county administrations, mainly from the western parts of Sweden, but also from skilled amateur biologists.

Herbarium GB continuously works with digitalizing the collections to make the information about species, their ecology and distribution available to a broader audience. Information on specimens and species can be found in the database of Sweden's Virtual Herbarium.

The division of Environmental Systems Analysis at Chalmers conducts research to find more sustainable technology solutions and to find ways to transform technology systems to better meet the environmental and resource constraints we face. Their work requires cross-disciplinary efforts, and their areas of expertise are unified through a common systems-based approach. They also offer courses in areas closely related to their research.

Gothenburg Museum of Natural History is the house of zoological biodiversity, and its permanent exhibition displays a wide range of Earth’s fauna – from the single-celled amoeba to the African elephant and the world’s only stuffed blue whale. The museum’s scientific collection includes about 10 million animals from all over the world, but with an emphasis on the region and the North Sea. The museum has extensive educational activities, with up to 1,000 school class visits per year.

Gothenburg Botanical Garden, with its 16,000 different plant species on 40 hectares, is one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe. Its botanical efforts centre around knowledge of the plants. Since its inception, education and scientific research have been the fundamental mission of the garden, but horticulture and recreation also have been important components. Gothenburg Botanical Garden actively collaborates with the University of Gothenburg and serves as an excursion and research garden. Extensive educational activities also are carried out here, with biodiversity as a focal point. Green Rehab is the garden’s programme for people suffering from mental illness. During the year, visitors can take advantage of programme activities and exhibitions.

Gothenburg Maritime Museum and Aquarium showcases life under and above the surface of the sea. Their exhibitions, programmes and school activities are exciting combinations of cultural history and the natural sciences. In the aquarium, they focus on the marine environment and marine biological diversity. They want to involve and educate their visitors so that they want to help preserve ocean ecosystems for future generations.

Havets Hus is a public marine aquarium focusing on the North Sea. Their mission is to teach and spark interest among current and future generations about life in the sea and its meaning by taking advantage of the knowledge of earlier generations and building on science and innovations. They are one of the few aquariums in the world that breeds and releases sharks.

Nordens Ark is a private non-profit foundation that works to ensure endangered animals have a future. They are engaged in conservation, rearing, research and training, as well as doing what they can to increase public awareness of biological diversity. Much of their work is done in the field, both in Sweden and overseas.

Right in the heart of Gothenburg is Universeum, Scandinavia’s most visited science centre with over half a million visitors annually. There is plenty to do here – among other things you can explore the Swedish wilderness, go on a rainforest safari, challenge your body and mind, watch when the sharks are fed, build with fun technology and travel into space. Universeum inspires and stimulates the interest for science and technology in all visitors – students and teachers, children and parents, young and old.

Slottskogens Zoo is a zoo located in the heart of Gothenburg welcoming over 3 million visitors a year. The zoo, found inside the park Slottsskogen constitutes a green haven for the citizens of Gothenburg and a place to explore nature in an otherwise urban area. The zoo is also involved in educational activities and receives many school classes every year educating kids and adults about local and far-flung biodiversity.

Västkuststiftelsen is an foundation with the purpose to protect and manage nature in Western Sweden as well as to promote outdoor life. We manage 280 nature reserves owned by the County Administrative Board of Västra Götaland, covering over 50 000 acres of land. There are two different types of areas; some with the main purpose of protecting valuable environments, hosting endangered species and others with the main purpose of being areas for outdoor life.

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute is Sweden's leading organisation for applied environmental and sustainability research. We are an independent research institute in the fields of the environment and sustainability. With Sweden's most extensive environmental profile, we combine R&D with close collaboration with the private and public sectors. 

We work with a broad range of customer target groups spanning the whole of society including trade and industry, politicians and civil authorities, interest groups, trade associations and various collaborative partners.

Our research is characterised by interdisciplinary systems thinking, and our consulting assignments are evidence-based. We have three thematic areas. They form the basis for our prioritised strategic areas. We have a wide range of skills that work together through the thematic areas and there is a variety of activities and projects in each of them.

We conduct applied research and consulting assignments for companies that need expert help in the environmental field.