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The Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute was established in 2008. It is one out of four Federal research institutes under the auspices of the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

The origins of the Thünen Institute lies in three German Federal research centres, all of which were founded after the Second World War, and several of which have even older roots: The Federal Research Centre for Fisheries (BFAFi), the Federal Research Centre for Forestry and Forest Products (BFH), and large parts of the Federal Agricultural Research Centre (FAL).

On the history of the predecessor bodies:

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