The Grand Challengers Podcast Episode #18

From tropical forests to the city – reconciliation ecology between human infrastructure and nature conservation

Guest: Fritz Kleinschroth

September 12th, 2023

Episode Teaser


“…I was never a person who said I’m only into forests, only into grasslands or rivers. For me it somehow belongs together and it’s the interactions and the human uses that interests me..”

Have you ever stared at a satellite image, searching for patterns and pictures in roads running through distant landscapes? Or how has the slightest change in perspective helped you better understand your local neighbourhood?

My guest today is Fritz Kleinschroth, a senior scientist in the Ecosystem Management group at ETH Zurich. Fritz has a diverse research portfolio centered around understanding the effects of human interventions on ecosystem function. His passions have brought him to many places, from the Congo Basin, Ethiopia and Zambia in the global south to his very own backyard.

On today’s show, we delve into the impacts of human activities and adaptability of nature both on land and water, and discuss the need for reconciliation ecology through the eyes of Fritz’s many adventures.


Dr. Fritz Kleinschroth is a senior scientist in the Ecosystem Management group at ETH Zurich working on the effects of human interventions on ecosystem functioning. His interests lie in the ecology of coupled land-infrastructure systems across urban-to-rural gradients. Using an array of tools including working wtih maps of vegetation and habitats, Fritz strives to connect field-based societal and ecological knowledge to find solutions for land use planning and conversation.

Fritz obtained a Diploma in Engineering (”Diplom-Ing”) in landscape planning and the Technical University of Berlin in 200?, specializing in urban ecology, vegetation ecology Geographic and Information Systems (GIS). After two years of working as an ecological consultant, he went on to do a PhD in Forestry at both AgroParisTech in France and Bangor University in the UK. Since ?? he has been based at ETH Zurich and has explored a wide variety of options and techniques to expand his research portfolio. Fritz’s research has been exploring solutions in both the global north as well as the rapidly developing global south (in particular, countries such as Laos, Peru, Zambia, Ethiopia and across the Congo Basin).

Fritz publishes broadly on the topics of urban ecology, forestry, ecosystem management and landscape planning. He has also been active in the community, having been a member of ArboCityNet, the Swiss network for urban forestry and given talks a reputable events including the Wyss Academy Symposium and the IUCN Congress. Fritz will start an Assistant Professorship at Amsterdam University in January 2024.

Resources Related to the Episode

(Disclosure: Links on this page to “View on Amazon” are Affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.)

  • Zurich’s Beavers are Crowd Pleasers: Kleinschroth, F., 2022. Zurich’s urban beavers are crowd-pleasers. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment20(6), p.369. [Link]
  • We made reference to Episode 03 with Martijn Kuller and his passion for maps. Check out the episode to hear a journey from the same passion.
  • Fritz’s Work on Forest Logging Roads:
    • Kleinschroth, F., Healey, J.R., Sist, P., Mortier, F. and Gourlet‐Fleury, S., 2016. How persistent are the impacts of logging roads on Central African forest vegetation?. Journal of Applied Ecology53(4), pp.1127-1137. [Open Access Link]
    • Kleinschroth, F., Healey, J.R., Gourlet‐Fleury, S., Mortier, F. and Stoica, R.S., 2017. Effects of logging on roadless space in intact forest landscapes of the Congo Basin. Conservation Biology31(2), pp.469-480. [Open Access Link]
    • Kleinschroth, F. and Healey, J.R., 2017. Impacts of logging roads on tropical forests. Biotropica49(5), pp.620-635. [Open Access Link]
    • Kleinschroth, F., Laporte, N., Laurance, W.F., Goetz, S.J. and Ghazoul, J., 2019. Road expansion and persistence in forests of the Congo Basin. Nature Sustainability2(7), pp.628-634. [Link]
  • Forest Certification: The seemingly challenging issue of certification and logging
  • Floating Vegetation and invasive water hyacinth:
    • Prof. Dr. Jaboury Ghazoul from ETH Zurich
    • One Fritz’s presentation on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus [YouTube]
    • What is a water hyacinth?
    • Furniture from water hyacinth, check out some nice websites for this [Garden Furniture Brands] , commonly referred to as Rattan in Asian countries [RattanLand]
    • Fritz’s work on floating species invasion: Kleinschroth, F., Winton, R.S., Calamita, E., Niggemann, F., Botter, M., Wehrli, B. and Ghazoul, J., 2021. Living with floating vegetation invasions. Ambio50(1), pp.125-137. [Open Access Link]
    • A quick 101 on ecosystem services
  • In covering Fritz’s fascination with vegetation taking back nature, we make reference to Episode 6 with Arya Arabshahi, check out his episode for another interesting project working with ruderal species
  • The COVID19 and urban green spaces phenomena:
  • Reconciliation Ecology:
    • The original definition by Rosenzweig [Wikipedia]
    • Rosenzweig, M. (2003) Win-Win Ecology. Oxford University Press [OUP] [View on Amazon]
    • Cohabitation was discussed in Episode 2 with Scott Lloyd, you can check out this episode for more details on this particular term
  • Fritz’s Work on Drone Imagery:
    • Here’s a compilation of 40 epic drone fails 😉 [YouTube]
    • For those interested, the drone I got was the DJI Mini 2, current model is the DJI Mini 4 [View on Amazon] – other new models, you can check at DJI’s official website
    • Kleinschroth, F., Banda, K., Zimba, H., Dondeyne, S., Nyambe, I., Spratley, S. and Winton, R.S., 2022. Drone imagery to create a common understanding of landscapes. Landscape and Urban Planning228, p.104571. [Open Access Link]
  • The Decade of Ecosystem Restoration [UN Link]
  • What is river daylighting?
  • The T-Shaped Professional in interdisciplinary work [Wikipedia]

Connect with Fritz Kleinschroth