New ideas (not only) for the Spreewald

Expedition: Sustainable Land Use
Project name: Ginkoo

How do niche ideas for complex problems become more sustainable land management solutions - and how are they accepted on the market and by consumers? That's what we're doing with our research. That's how we learn about the typical challenges that lie behind the actual solution, so to speak."
Project Manager Dr. Bettina König, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Ein Team aus Forscher:innen und lokalen Akteur:innen bei einer Exkursion in den Spreewald
(© Foto: Tamara Schaal)

Alongside water, land is one of our most important resources: it is a habitat, a source of food and a home all at the same time. If it is not used sustainably enough, this can have serious consequences for soil, flora and fauna. Conventional agricultural use in particular is often the focus of public attention and critical debate because of undesirable ecological and social side effects.
More sustainable solutions have long been available, for example in organic farming. However, these are often not applied on a large scale and, as "niche solutions," hardly achieve market relevance. This is precisely where the interdisciplinary innovation group "ginkoo" came in from 2014 to 2019: Researchers from agricultural economics, horticultural sciences, geography, economics, sustainability management and other disciplines devoted themselves to the question of how these niche solutions can achieve greater economic and social significance.

To answer this question, the researchers of "ginkoo" accompanied two practical examples in the state of Brandenburg. For five years, the researchers worked with actors in the Spreewald and the regional project Zweinutzungshuhn to find tools for the development of innovative solutions for sustainable land management.

Nasse Wiesen und Horstacker im Spreewald
(© Michael Petschick)

Model project 1: Maintenance of the Spreewald cultural landscape

"The Spreewald is particularly known for its characteristic cultural landscape with its typical wet meadows. Unfortunately, the framework conditions for the sustainable use of these wet meadows have changed greatly in recent years, and profitable use is now rarely possible. Many are being taken out of use and are becoming overgrown, and the man-made cultural landscape is threatening to disappear. Yet these meadows in particular are of great importance for biodiversity, the landscape and regional identity," explains project manager Bettina König.

In addition, the local players - nature conservation, agriculture and tourism - were not pulling in the same direction. They often acted independently of each other and felt that the existing exchange formats did not address them enough. This led to a lack of mutual understanding and made it difficult to find solutions.

Together with farmers and experts from nature conservation, regional administration and tourism, the research team developed and implemented measures for landscape conservation. Under the motto "protection through use", they developed economic models, technological approaches and financing instruments, which resulted, among other things, in the "Spreewald development care concept".

Hühnerstall von ei care im Zweinutzungshuhn Projekt
(© Lukas Wortmann)

Model project 2: Dual-purpose chickens

"What can sustainable, more ethical chicken farming look like? Society is increasingly demanding alternatives that focus more on animal welfare. Fortunately, there are also many ideas and opportunities for innovation in this regard - however, attached to this are often numerous challenges and entrenched structures that need to be broken down," Bettina König leads. "Small and medium-sized players in particular face the challenge of creating space, structures and practices for innovative approaches to solutions."

One of these solution approaches is the breeding of dual-purpose chickens: they can be kept for both egg laying and slaughter. This is not just about avoiding the killing of chicks - the idea also addresses other aspects of sustainability, such as animal welfare, better income for farmers, more environmentally friendly husbandry and product quality.

The project quickly showed that the further development of the dual-use concept requires different perspectives, interests, resources, and experiences of different stakeholders from animal production, land management, and society. The main issue is economic efficiency, because dual-purpose hens lay fewer eggs than hens from battery cages. In order for the project to be financially viable, new marketing channels must be developed.

This is precisely where the researchers come in: Numerous conferences, discussions and dialogs with consumers, workshops, seminars and practical tests dealt with which cooperations are possible along the value chain, how the products can be marketed well and presented in supermarkets, and how the sustainability aspect can be emphasized.

Bettina König bei einem Workshop
(© Foto: Falk Weiß)

Innovation Navigator

Based on the results from the case studies, the ginkoo-Innovation Navigator was created. The Innovation Navigator is a toolbox with useful tools for the development of sustainable innovations. The tools it contains support the different actors to cooperate efficiently with each other, to find and discuss sustainable solutions and to increase the acceptance towards the innovation. They support the different actors from agriculture, nature conservation, administration or management in using knowledge, assessing chances of success and designing a suitable marketing strategy. The developed and tested tools are also applicable to other cases and can be combined with each other.

The ginkoo-innovation navigator is available here for all interested and potential users.

(© Anett Kuntosch)

External links:

  • Ginkoo Innovation Navigator
  • Project page Innovation Group Sustainable Land Management
  • Schäfer, M., König, B. Kuntosch, A., Richter, B., Schaal, T. (2020): Managing innovation processes for sustainable development. The ginkoo innovation navigator. Ecological Management 3.2020 (35). [link to publication] DOI: Journal.
  • Busse, M., Zscheischler, J., Heitepriem, N., Siebert, R. (2019): Spreewald cultural landscape and its conservation through the 2019 development maintenance pool instrument. In: ginkoo project reports, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. DOI: Working Paper.
  • Richter, B., Busse, M., Kuntosch, A., Zoll, F., Schäfer, M., Siebert, R., Diehl, K., König, B. (2019): Innovative solutions for sustainable, more ethical poultry management. Results of the ginkoo project. In: ginkoo project reports, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. DOI: Working Paper


Folgender Link wurde Ihrer Zwischenablage hinzugefügt. Sie können diesen jetzt nutzen, um ihn in Ihren Netzwerken zu teilen.


Wir verwenden Cookies, um die Benutzerfreundlichkeit unserer Website zu verbessern und sicherzustellen.