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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.



Angelika Zahrnt, Irmi Seidl (WSL) und Team zeigen, wie sich Erwerbs-, Sorge- und Freiwilligenarbeit sowie Selbstversorgung kombinieren lassen.


Wo gibt es finanzielle Fehlanreize, welche die Biodiversität schädigen? Unterstützen Sie das Forschungsprojekt und nehmen Sie an der Umfrage teil.


Biodiversität: Das Projekt "Better Gardens" studiert die Beziehung von Mensch, Stadtgrün und Insekten am Beispiel von Zürich. Ein Kurzfilm der RSI.


Private or community gardens in metropolitan areas have great social significance and are a haven for biodiversity.


Switzerland possesses large undeveloped landscapes – the lion's share of which is located in high alpine regions – according to a WSL analysis.


Regional development is a central pillar of Swiss policy. A new factsheet shows how this works best.


The expansion of renewable energy will further decentralise power and heat generation in Switzerland. (Image:



Forest economics and policy

Our forest economics and policy research examines the impact of economic and social activities on the forest and vice versa.

Nature conservation and reserves

We investigate the societal and economic effects of nature reserves of national significance and other protected areas.

Urban Development

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

Landscape Development and Monitoring

We use monitoring programmes to document and quantify how our landscapes change.

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...

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.

Landscapes for Health and Recreation

Landscapes with high recreational values contribute to human health and well-being. We study the features of these types of landscapes.

Management and Participation

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