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Department of Geography Space, Nature and Society

Landscape and Conservation Social Sciences

  • Hiking trail in Parc Naturel Régional Gruyère Pays-d'Enhaut. (Photo : A. Michel)

  • Students on an excursion in the Swiss National Park. (Photo: A. Michel)

  • Exploring meaningful places during a go-along interview in Naturpark Pfyn-Finges. (Photo: T. Oliveri)

In our research group, we engage with the social dimensions of nature(s) and landscapes. We work at the intersection of science and practice and are interested in perceptions, processes, and arguments related to nature conservation, landscape planning, and sustainable development. We analyze the various perceptions and justifications that influence socio-political negotiations over nature and landscapes and explore the influence of values, emotions, and senses of justice on decision making processes in nature conservation. Whereas we place our work in the realm of Political Ecology and Environmental Justice, we collaborate in inter- and transdisciplinary projects and employ approaches and methods from other fields. 
Our research focuses on Switzerland and other mountainous countries. 

Group leader

Dr. Annina Michel

Group members

Dr. Roger Keller (Senior Scientist)
Madleina Dreier (Teaching Assistant)
Dr. Gvantsa Salukvadze (Affiliated Researcher)

Former group members

Lucia Thaler (Research Assistant ValPar.CH)
Selina Gattiker (Master Student)
Dr. Anna Deplazes-Zemp (Visiting Researcher)
Rebecca Schneiter (Research Assistant ValPar.CH)
Timo Oliveri (Research Assistant ValPar.CH)
Pierre Perréaz (Research Assistant ValPar.CH)
Dr. Timothy Tait-Jamieson (Research Associate)
Dr. Sarah Hartmann (Research Associate ValPar.CH)

Belongs to the organizational unit

Space, Nature and Society

Current Projects

ValPar.CH - Values of the ecological infrastructure in Swiss parks

Commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), 10/2020-12/2023 
Within this inter- and transdisciplinary research project, we assess the social values of the ecological infrastructure (EI) and ecosystem services in regional nature parks in Switzerland. More ... 

Where Georgia and Switzerland meet: Sustainable development in mountain areas

Project supported by a Seed Funding Grant of the Swiss Leading House for Science & Technology Cooperation, University of Geneva, as part of the Swiss Bilateral Cooperation Programme of SERI. 
We newly created a blended learning course held simultaineosly at UZH and Tbilisi State University (TSU), Since fall semester 2022, we jointly teach GEO361 Advanced Human Geography: Sustainable Mountain Development, where students learn about current socio-political challenges in mountain regions and independently work on a research project. Visit for further information and a student blog!

MTA: An online platform for cross-border student collaboration and learning

Supported by the UZH competitive teaching fund
MTA - MountainApp was created to facilitate cross-country student interaction and students' fieldwork projects in Georgia and Switzerland. More...

Empowering Policy Relevance of our Research

Project supported by the URPP Global Change and Biodiversity

In this project, we aim to strengthen the societal relevance of our research by fostering different pathways of science-policy-transfers:

  • Empowering researchers to identify the relevance of their research for policy and society.
  • Encouraging policy stakeholders on regional (cantonal) and national levels to discuss their needs/interests with researchers.
  • Establishing and strengthening networks for science-policy transfer.

Landscape Services in Landscapes of National Importance

In this project, we are demonstrating the importance of landscapes of national importance for human well-being. (DE)
https://www.prestationspaysagè (FR)

Landscape knowledge in brief 

Within this project, we developed principles for prospective teachers to foster differentiated understandings of landscapes. (DE) (FR)

Weiterführende Informationen

Die Schweiz schützt die Artenvielfalt nicht genug

Die Schweiz schützt die Artenvielfalt nicht genug