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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.



Wie häufig besuchen Jugendliche den Wald und was machen sie dort? Antworten liefert eine Umfrage der WSL bei 643 Schülerinnen und Schülern.


How can biodiversity in forests be preserved? Join the Forum für Wissen on November 26 (in German). Online participation, free of charge.

New developments are subsidised through the partial funding of development costs and low value-added taxes.

A new study has identified 160 government subsidies that not only pursue political goals, but also impair biodiversity.

BERN - 4 May 2020 - Extraordinary session of the National Council and Council of States held from 4 to 7 May 2020 at BERNEXPO. Photo: Parliamentary Services 3003 Bern

WSL analysis finds that while the Federal Council received emergency powers at the start of the pandemic, Swiss federal governance endured.

During the lockdown, people-induced stress among forest visitors was minimal, and confined to forests near towns and cities.

The lockdown saw many Swiss people go to forests more often than usual, but even more stopped visiting them entirely, a survey reveals.

Species-rich community garden on the outskirts of Zurich.

Urban gardens help with psychological restoration. A WSL study shows that allotments are more restorative on average than domestic gardens.





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.


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...


Forest economics and policy

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


Management and Participation

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