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Economics and Social Sciences

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Head: Prof. Dr. Irmi Seidl

The Economics and Social Sciences Research Unit is concerned with economic, institutional and societal questions of WSL-Research topics, in particular with landscape, natural resources, spatial development and natural hazards. It addresses real and specific problems and deals with them in an interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary or disciplinary way.

The work of the research unit is undertaken in accordance with the idea of sustainability and improves the knowledge of systems, of objectives, and of transformation.

The researchers

  • investigate societal claims, attitudes, valuations, and participation and decision processes regarding the topics mentioned above;
  • analyze economic, societal, and spatial processes, as well as societal structures, institutions, and relevant policies (e.g. governance) as to their effects on the environment, resources, and life quality;
  • develop and evaluate communicative, persuasive, regulative, institutional, and economic measures, instruments and strategies.



WSL researchers have investigated why wind turbines often face opposition and how attitudes could be changed.


Landscape's current and future recreational function was the focus of 'Recreational Landscape', WSL's 2021 Forum für Wissen.

Raised bogs have no influx, but receive water only through rainfall. Typical for them are peat mosses and plants adapted to acid soils. (Photo: Lena Gubler, WSL)

How are Swiss peatlands doing and how can they be helped? Experts from research and practice discussed this at a conference at WSL.


In an interview in the magazine DIAGONAL, two experts discuss how our relationship with ‘nature’ shapes us.


Nature against stress, medicine from the cold and the forest facing new challenges: The new issue of DIAGONAL is all about health.





Urban Development

The configuration and extent of settlements affect biodiversity and quality of life. We analyse settlement development and its consequences.


Energy and Landscape

Energy Strategy 2050 provides for a conversion of the existing energy system. We identify its benefits and possible consequences for the landscape.


Dealing with natural hazards

Through our research and services, we help to protect people effectively and efficiently from natural hazards.


Adaptation to climate change

We therefore research different possible responses such as the prevention of natural hazards, adaptation to risks and preparation for long-term...


Management and Participation

Land use and landscape development are influenced by numerous stakeholders. We study how, why and by what means stakeholders act.