Biodiversity and ecosystem services

The CSIR biodiversity and ecosystem services group is an interdisciplinary, applied research group with expertise in understanding and enhancing the governance of ecosystem services and social-ecological systems in multifunctional landscapes.

The group applies varied methods and advanced analytics in generating this understanding, ranging from modelling, mapping and prioritisation, undertaking risk assessments, strategy development and assessing the evidence base. The group engages with multiple stakeholders and has engaged in extensive collaborations across organisational boundaries in the co-production of knowledge to develop innovative solutions and decision-support tools for the public and private sectors.

The CSIR’s research in this field also focuses on environmental disaster risk mitigation and adaptation, and unlocking opportunities for resilient and sustainable social-ecological systems that have the ability to adapt to climate change and protect biodiversity and its societal benefits. This research helps businesses, government and society to understand and respond to the effects of demographic growth, scarce/overexploited natural resources and environmental degradation on socioeconomic development and poverty alleviation. Ultimately, the group’s research is geared towards advancing scientific understanding and generating practical tools, outputs and outcomes that support social development and can be integrated into decision- making processes that inform policy and practice, especially related to developmental planning.

Key research areas

  • Ecological infrastructure and ecosystem service mapping, modelling and prioritisation
    The CSIR focuses on understanding the linkages between our natural resources and landscapes, their condition, biodiversity and ecosystem services, and human well-being. The organisation uses novel mapping and modelling techniques to identify threats, trade-offs and areas of resilience to enhance understanding of the consequences of ecosystem and global change. These techniques also help identify ways to invest in ecological infrastructure that promote resilience and maximise benefits.
  • Environmental risk and resilience
    The CSIR’s risk and resilience research has two primary focus areas, namely to understand and describe the socio-ecological risk landscape spatially, temporally and systematically; and  to understand and describe the status and main drivers of socio-ecological resilience within these landscapes.
  • Ecosystem degradation, rehabilitation and restoration
    The CSIR is experienced in the synthesis and assessment of knowledge of the status, drivers and impacts of land degradation, and options for restoration. The group works on the mainstreaming of restoration science into policy, based on its understanding of the science-practice-policy interlinkages.
  • Integrating ecological and social knowledge to support decision-making
    The CSIR aims to ensure that the modelling, mapping and prioritisation that it undertakes informs policies and practice across multiple scales (local to national) and sectors. This is undertaken through transdisciplinary research in which researchers integrate socioeconomic and ecological knowledge with stakeholder views, values and priorities, to develop strategies and frameworks that inform private- and public- sector decision-making.
Ryan Blanchard


Capabilities range from modelling and mapping ecosystem services, undertaking risk assessments, assessing the evidence and engaging stakeholders in the co-production of knowledge and solutions.

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