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School of Geography

EGC Projects

Facilitated WorKshops on Ecosystem Services (FAWKES)

FAWKES is a joint educational research programme between the University of Leeds and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ  in Leipzig, Germany. During academic year 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 it will have two international and interdisciplinary teams of PhD students conduct a joint research project related to ecosystem services. The teams will be guided by staff from both UoL and the UFZ based Helmholtz Research School for Ecosystem Services under Changing Landuse and Climate (ESCALATE). Each cohort will meet for two 4 day workshops (one at Leeds and one in Leipzig) with 6 month work in between (at ~2 hour/week). Each team will conduct a scientific synthesis project from start to finish and prepare a joint paper submitted to an international peer-reviewed journal. FAWKES will enhance the interdisciplinary research skills of the participants, foster international collaboration and advance the state of the art in ecosystem service research. 

Background and Approach

Nature provides resources and benefits to human society. These free “Ecosystem Services” are not accounted for in most governmental and commercial decision-making and policy processes. Multiple drivers, including climate change, land use change, pollution, population growth and increasing demand for food, all pose serious threats to ecosystems, the biodiversity basis for their function, and the life-supporting services they provide us. In the last decade, many academic studies examined the relevance of biodiversity to ecosystem function and services, the importance of ecosystem services to different societies, and different beneficiaries within these, and the impact of global change on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The concept of ecosystem services is gaining traction in policy, in particular in the UK but also in the EU, as well as in conservation NGOs and multi-lateral organizations. 

Year 1 (2014/2015) project

For the first year of FAWKES, the topic chosen is the interface between ecosystem services and the Water Framework Directive (WFD). WFD regulate water quality, chemical concentrations and ecological conditions in Europe freshwater, transitional waters, estuaries and coastal waters. Adopted in 2000, the WFD is plausibly the most ambitious piece of EU legislation in the field of water. The Directive defines a general framework for integrated river basin management in Europe with a view to achieve ‘good status’ (chemical and ecological) by 2015 and to prevent further deterioration of status. In doing so, the WFD integrates a variety of previous EU policy initiatives on water, making sure that water management takes a holistic perspective which goes beyond narrow sectorial thinking. Institutional novelties include, amongst others, the involvement of non-state actors in the preparation of river basin management plans, the use of economic tools such as cost-benefit analysis, as well as a common strategy to support EU member states during the implementation of the Directive. 

This year project will started on June 1st, 2015 with a 4 day kick-off workshop in Selside Outdoors Centre and the University of Leeds. This year's cohort include 6 PhD students from UoL and 3 from UFZ.

Click here for the UFZ ESCALTE sister page.

For enquires on FAWKES contact Dr. Guy Ziv (g.ziv(at) or Dr. Michael Beckmann (michael.beckmann(at)