Founded in December 1991, the UFZ was the first and only research institute in the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres to be exclusively dedicated to environmental research. It currently employs around 900 staff and is 90% funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, with the regional governments of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt sharing the remaining 10 percent equally. UFZ is located at the towns of Leipzig, Halle and Magdeburg.
The mission of the UFZ
As an international competence centre for the environmental sciences, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) investigates the complex interactions between mankind and nature under the influence of global change. In close cooperation with decision-makers and stakeholders, scientists at the UFZ develop system solutions to improve the management of complex environmental systems and to tackle environmental issues.
For example, we work on the management of water resources, the impacts of land use change on human landscapes and biodiversity, the impacts of chemicals in the environment and on human health as well as adaptation strategies for climate change.
Successful solutions require a solid scientific basis. But this is not sufficient. Environmental research, which is usually dominated by the natural sciences, has to become increasingly linked to the human, social and legal sciences.
This is the challenge that we – the 1.100 people working at the UFZ – face.
It is our mission to suggest ways that ensure a balance between economic and societal development on the one hand and the long-term protection of our natural resource base on the other.
The UFZ´s research structure
Research at the UFZ is organized into 34 methodical competence centres, the so-called departments. The large number of departments underlines the large range of competences and approaches at the UFZ. The departments are organized into seven divisions, namely:
1. Environmental Systems, Computation and Monitoring
2. Water and Soil Sciences
3. Terrestrial Ecology
4. Environmental Technology
5. Environmental Health
6. Health Research
7. Social Sciences
In terms of its fields of research the UFZ focuses on three core subject areas as well as three cross-sectional competence areas (see diagram). These are assigned to the Helmholtz ResearchFields of Earth and Environment (Research programme „Terrestrial Environment“ / accounting for 85 percent of UFZ resources), Health (Research Programme “Environmental Health“ / 8 percent) as well as Energy (Research Programmes „Renewable Energies“ and „Technology, Innovation and Society“ / 7 percent).
The Helmholtz Association
The Helmholtz Association contributes towards solving major and pressing social, scientific and economic issues with scientific excellence in six research areas: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Structure of Matter, Aeronautics, Aerospace and Transport. The Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organisation with over 33,000 employees in 18 research centres and an annual budget of approximately 3.4 billion euros. Its work stands in the tradition of the naturalist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).