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Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Biogeography

Responsible travel in the Conservation Biogeography Lab

Our overarching goals is to carry out cutting-edge and relevant research on how people use land, how that impacts biodiversity, and which conservation strategies can effectively mitigate these impacts. We work in many geographic settings, but we often focus on regions that are understudied, where land-use dynamics are drastic, and where threats to biodiversity are strong. Such regions are typically far away from Berlin. In addition, as a lab we strive to enable young researchers to achieve their personal goals and the careers they envision. All of this sometimes requires travelling – for example to participate in international projects, to carry out field work, to establish and maintain collaborations, or to present at scientific meetings. Yet, the considerable benefits of travelling also come along with major environmental impacts, particularly climate impacts from greenhouse gas emissions. As a lab, it is our goal to minimize the negative environmental impact of our work, by always carefully weighing the costs and benefits of travel.

Regarding travel, we therefore commit to the following four principles:

  1. Evaluating the necessity of every trip – and make it worthwhile. We are highly selective when deciding for trips and substitute them through online meetings wherever possible. If, we take trips, we make them worthwhile. This can include making less frequent, but longer trips (e.g. field work), combining travels (e.g., field work and a conference) or waiting a year for attending a conference (e.g. a conference in Europe vs. overseas).
  2. Using more sustainable modes of transportation. The vast majority of travel-related emissions our lab produces are through flying (e.g., >90% in 2017-2019). We commit to avoiding air travel, wherever possible, by replacing short-haul flights with other modes of transportation and by being particularly cautious when deciding for long-haul flights (that cause the majority of our travel emissions).
  3. Monitoring and documenting our climate impacts from travelling. To help inform our decisions about future travel and to be transparent, we are monitoring our travel-related emissions and publish them annually on our website. Our goal is to reduce our overall per-capita emissions.
  4. Offsetting unavoidable emissions. For all unavoidable trips (>250km), we commit to carry out offsetting. We realize that offsetting is the last effective way of reducing our climate impact of our travelling, emphasizing the importance of the first two points.


Annual CO2 emissions of the Conservation Biogeography Lab from work-related travel (only trips >250km are shown). Left: total emissions. right: per-capita emissions.