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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.


Dependent on artificial snow: ski slope in Brigels (photo: WSL)

New publication: An interactive WSL tool shows the governance structures with which Alpine countries are adapting to climate change.

Eine grosse Windmühle steht unter einer Hochspannungsleitung, im Hintergrund eine oberseits schneebedeckte Bergkette.

Das Forum für Wissen 2019 greift Fragen zu den Auswirkungen der Energiewende auf und fasst den Stand des Wissens dazu zusammen.


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

Schwalbenschwanz-Schmetterling. (Foto: Albert Krebs, ETH Zürich)

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.

Species-rich community garden on the outskirts of Zurich.

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

Sefinental (Canton of Bern), are almost exclusively found in Switzerland's mountains (photo: Markus Bolliger)

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

Regional development agencies must coordinate different interests and demands on a given territory. (Photo: Gero Nischik)

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:




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.


Management and Participation

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


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.