Robert Bosch Junior Professorship

Dr. Jan Börner

The effect of human intervention in natural processes is a topic that receives significant attention. Barely any other action is such a perfect example of the destruction of natural resources and as a result, our own habitat, as tropical deforestation. Not only do rainforests exhibit a level of biodiversity that is beyond comparison, they simultaneously act as huge carbon stores that play a key role in the global stabilization of our climate. When it comes to their utilization, however, a wide range of conflicts exist in countries with rainforest areas. Environmental necessities and economic interests often seem to be irreconcilable.

Using Rainforest Areas Sustainably

Dr. Jan Börner, agricultural scientist and new Robert Bosch Junior Professor, has been working on how to overcome these conflicts, as well as possible strategies for the bioeconomical utilization of South American rainforests, since August 2012. He is going to form a group of aspiring researchers at the University of Bonn’s Center for Development Research, and over the next five years (and with a budget of one million euros) will study how governments can develop environmental policy instruments that bring together both ecological and economic interests in the world’s most important natural areas.

The goal of Jan Börner’s research project is the sustainable use of rainforest areas. This is possible using agroforestry systems, for example. These combine both forestry and agricultural elements and, in doing so, counteract the one-sided use and degradation of the land. These systems are already being used successfully in certain municipalities along the Trans-Amazonian highway, and represent an alternative to the slash-and-burn agricultural technique practiced up until now.

Applying the Research Findings to Real-World Situations

Alternatives such as these cannot be easily introduced everywhere, however. The most important thing is to tailor environmental policy to local conditions, explains Dr. Börner. That’s why the first part of his project deals with the importance of local conditions on the effect of environmental policy measures. Using this information, the group will then develop possible courses of action for the bioeconomical use of rainforest areas.

In addition, their goal is for the findings not just to remain in research circles and specialized libraries, but to ultimately be presented to local and international decision-making bodies so that they actually make a difference in real-world situations, and help conserve the rainforests as a habitat for countless animals and plants and an essential part of our climate.

(Dajana Karge, March 2012)

Picture Gallery

Western Amazon
Honey production
Visiting victims of a flood
Northern Amazon
Worshop on value chain
Ceremony of the Junior Professorship in Bonn

Short Profile

Dr. Jan Börner, born in 1975, studied Agricultural Sciences at Humboldt-Universität Berlin and the University of Minnesota, specializing in Environment and Resource Economics. In 2006, he completed his doctorate at the University of Bonn’s Center for Development Research (ZEF). Afterwards he worked as a postdoc at the Technische Universität München in Munich and at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Palmira, Colombia.

As a Robert Bosch Junior Professor, Börner is researching the variety of conflicts stemming from the utilization of tropical rainforests. His research group at the Center for Development Research examines how governments can develop and use suitable environmental policy instruments to make the bioeconomical utilization of globally significant natural areas possible.