Young Research Group

Impacts of the consumption of agricultural and forestry products

Globalization and industrialization have rapidly increased the distance between the production of agricultural and forestry products and their consumption. The impacts in producing systems move increasingly out of consumers’ sight. In our group, we analyze and evaluate such telecouplings (i.e. interactions of socio-ecological systems across large geographic distances) through consumption of agricultural and forestry products and their implications for land use, ecosystem services and biodiversity around the globe.

We investigate these interrelations from a system perspective. Grounded in sociometabolic research, we advance existing and develop new approaches to study global interconnections. We base our analyses on global statistical databases, data analysis and modelling approaches, in order to map and quantify telecouplings in the land system. We highlight the dependencies of our economic system on ecosystems and their services all over the globe and aim to identify entry points to make the systems more sustainable.


Selected publications

Pendrill, F., Persson, M., Godar, J., & Kastner, Th. (2019): Deforestation displaced: trade in forest-risk commodities and the prospects for a global forest transition. Environmental Research Letters, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab0d41

Marques, A., Martins, I.S., Kastner, Th. et al. (2019):  Increasing impacts of land use on biodiversity and carbon sequestration driven by population and economic growth. Nature Ecology and Evolution, doi: 10.1038/s41559-019-0824-3

Erb, K.-H., Kastner, Th. et al. (2018): Unexpectedly large impact of forest management and grazing on global vegetation biomass. Nature, doi; doi:10.1038/nature25138

Dalin, C., Wada, Y. Kastner, Th. And Puma, M.J. (2017): Groundwater depletion embedded in international food trade. Nature, doi: 10.1038/nature21403

Chaudhary, A., Carrasco, L.R. and Kastner, Th. (2017): Linking national wood consumption with global biodiversity and ecosystem service losses. Science of The Total Environment, 586, pp.985-994, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.02.078



Dr. Thomas Kastner
PostDoc, Head of Young Scientist Group 'Impacts of the consumption of agricultural and forestry products'

Research Interests

My main research interests are the systemic relations between biomass use, international trade, land use change and species decline; long-term changes in land use systems and in the use of land-based resources; impacts on dietary patterns on land demand and on biodiversity and the role of land use in climate-change mitigation.


External Links

List of publications on Google scholar

Selected Publications

Dalin, Carole, Yoshide Wada, *Thomas Kastner*, Michael J. Puma. “Groundwater depletion embedded in international food trade. ” /Nature/ (2017): forthcoming.

Chaudhary, Abhishek, L. Roman Carrasco, and *Thomas Kastner*. “Linking national wood consumption with global biodiversity and ecosystem service losses.” /Science of The Total Environment/ 586 (2017): 985-994.

Erb, Karl-Heinz, Christian Lauk, *Thomas Kastner*, Andreas Mayer, Michaela Clarissa Theurl, and Helmut Haberl. “Exploring the Biophysical Option Space for Feeding the World without Deforestation.” /Nature Communications/ 7. (2016): 11382.

Henders, Sabine, U. Martin Persson, and *Thomas Kastner*. “Trading forests: land-use change and carbon emissions embodied in production and exports of forest-risk commodities.” /Environmental Research Letters/ 10, no. 12 (2015): 125012.

*Kastner, Thomas*, Karl-Heinz Erb, and Helmut Haberl. “Rapid Growth in Agricultural Trade: Effects on Global Area Efficiency and the Role of Management.” /Environmental Research Letters/ 9, no. 3 (2014): 034015.

*Kastner, Thomas*, Maria Jose Ibarrola Rivas, Wolfgang Koch, and Sanderine Nonhebel. “Global Changes in Diets and the Consequences for Land Requirements for Food.” /Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences/ 109, no. 18 (2012): 6868–6872.

*Kastner, Thomas*, Michael Kastner, and Sanderine Nonhebel. “Tracing Distant Environmental Impacts of Agricultural Products from a Consumer Perspective.” /Ecological Economics/ 70, no. 6 (2011): 1032–1040.

Florian Schwarzmueller Sbik-f
Dr. Florian Schwarzmüller
PostDoc, Member of Young Scientist Group 'Impacts-of-the-consumption-of-agricultural-and-forestry-products'

Research interests

I am an Ecological Modeller working on the effects of global change on the stability and functioning of ecological communities. During my PhD at the University of Göttingen, I worked on the effect of climate change, nutrient enrichment and habitat fragmentation on the stability of trophic interaction systems. I then went on to do a postdoc at the Commonwealth Scientific Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Brisbane, Australia. There, I worked in an interdisciplinary project on the effectiveness and acceptance of Area-wide management strategies in a complex socio-ecological system.
At Senckenberg BiK-F, I am currently working on a project entitled “Consumption Based Accounting of Land-Use Carbon Emissions (CoBALUCE)” which is a joined project between SBiK-F and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. In this project, we are looking at the effect of land-use change for the production of forestry and agricultural products on ecosystem carbon storage. We aim to attribute these emissions to products that are traded globally, to trace the emissions from the place they are producer to the consumer of the final product. The results can inform consumer decisions or global mitigation policies. I am also interested in effects of land-use change on biodiversity and in developing model scenarios along future socio-ecological pathways.

External links

My Twitter account @FSchwarzmueller

Profile on ResearchGate

List of publications on Google Scholar

Giorgio Bidoglio
Ph.D. student, Member of Young Scientist Group 'Environmental Impacts of the consumption of agricultural and forestry products'

Research interests

In my PhD research, I will investigate the biodiversity footprint of Vienna as exemplary of impacts of food and biomass consumption of large urban areas on the supply regions where production occurs. The goal is to develop spatially explicit biodiversity footprint indicators and analyse trade-offs of interest to stakeholders to identify priority actions for reduction of urban pressures on biodiversity. 
Under the supervision of Dr. Kastner at BIK-F, I will also collaborate with the Institute of Social Ecology of the Alpen Adria University and the Division of Conservation Biology at the Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research of the University of Vienna. 
By making use of Life Cycle Assessment, in my Master Thesis I addressed the impacts of small hydropower for sustainable energy development in the Kerala State, India, going above the paradigm of carbon emissions and focussing on land use impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. My previous experience might prove useful also for the new endeavour.

External links

Giorgio Bidoglio at ResearchGate

Perrine Laroche


Farina Hoffmann
Gast Master-Studentin