A long-term perspective is indispensable for understanding today's sustainability challenges. Many of the current environmental problems are the result of long-term processes in the past. In addition, efforts at sustainable development need to consider the long-term effects and potential unintended side-effects of today's decisions.

In the thematic area long-term socio-ecological research and environmental history, we investigate the changing interrelations of society and nature in a long-term perspective. Guided by a co-evolutionary understanding, we argue that societal practices shape the environment, affecting the availability of resources and the type and degree of pollution. On the other hand, the social and economic organization of societies are both cause and consequence of the respective societal metabolism and colonization efforts. One of our research foci is the investigation of sustainability challenges in the course of industrialization. We view the shift from local, solar- and biomass-based energy provision to the use of fossil energy carriers as a transition of socio-ecological regimes. This transition entails qualitative and quantitative changes in sustainability challenges. We investigate this process by critically using historical sources and data sets to apply methods like material and energy flow analyses for historical time periods.

We also work on the transformation of socio-natural sites. This concept describes the nexus of socio-natural arrangements and practices, aiming at overcoming the dichotomy of society and nature. We qualitatively and quantitatively employ the notion of socio-natural sites to various environmental history case studies, e.g. the changes in Vienna and its waterscape since the middle ages, or the opening of alpine landscapes to tourism. The relationship of societies to nature has both biophysical and symbolic features. We also study symbolic aspects of societal relations to nature focusing on changing perceptions and risk.

Research coordinator: Martin Schmid

The Centre for Environmental History (ZUG) was founded in 2003. Today it is located at the Institute of Social Ecology. The centre provides a communication platform to promote networking among national and international scholars in the field of environmental history. ZUG curates an international lecture series (ZUG-Minisymposia), maintains the literature database Environmental History Database Austria (EHDA) and coordinates academic teaching in the field in and around Vienna.

Head of the Center for Environmental History: Verena Winiwarter

Current Projects

ALISEN (Analyzing LInkages of SocioEcological Nitrogen flows) - Ernährungssystem und Stickstoffflüsse: Ein integriertes sozialökologisches Modell für das Ennstal, Oberösterreich, 1830-2030

Keyword: LTSER, Stickstoffflüsse, integrierte Modellierung, Ernährungssystem
Project Leader: Veronika Gaube
Duration: 01.05.2012-30.04.2020
Funded by: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)


HEFT - Hidden Emissions of Forest Transitions: GHG effects of socio-metabolic processes reducing pressures on forests

Project Leader: Simone Gingrich
Duration: 01.04.2018-31.03.2023
Funded by: Commission of the European Communities
heft.boku.ac.at


LTSER Konzept II - Konzeption und inhaltliche Schwerpunktsetzung der LTSER Plattform Eisenwurzen

Project Leader: Simone Gingrich
Duration: 01.01.2016-31.12.2018
Funded by: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften


Water-City-Vienna. A changing metropolis (Wasser-Stadt-Wien)

Project Leader: Gertrud Haidvogl
BOKU Research Units: Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management
Duration: 01.11.2017-31.12.2018
Funded by: City of Vienna, Austria 

Finished Projects

ENVIEDAN - Umweltgeschichte der Wiener Donau 1500-1890. Eine Analyse der langfristigen Dynamik, Strukturen und Nebenwirkungen der Kolonisierung von Flüßen

Project Leader: Verena Winiwarter
Duration: 15.05.2010 - 30.09.2013
Funded by: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)

HEFT - Hidden Emissions of Forest Transitions: GHG effects of socio-metabolic processes reducing pressures on forests (HEFT)

Project Leader: Simone Gingrich
Duration: 01.04.2018-31.03.2023
Funded by: Commission of the European Communities

LTSER Konzept II - Konzeption und inhaltliche Schwerpunktsetzung der LTSER Plattform Eisenwurzen 

Project Leader: Simone Gingrich
Duration: 01.01.2016-31.12.2018
Funded by: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften


Sustainable Farm Systems: Long-Term Socio-Ecological Metabolism in Western Agriculture

Keyword: Nachhaltigkeit
Project Leader: Univ.Prof. Dr. Fridolin Krausmann
Duration: 01.03.2012 - 28.02.2017
Funded by: Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)


Umweltgeschichte der Wiener Gewässerlandschaft 1683-1918 (URBWATER)

Keyword: Umweltgeschichte, Donau, Wien, interdisziplinäre Studien
Project Leader: Univ.-Prof. Ing. Dr.phil. Verena Winiwarter
Duration: 01.10.2013 - 30.09.2015
Funded by: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)


Umweltgeschichte der Wiener Gewässerlandschaft 1683-1918

Keyword: Umweltgeschichte, Donau, Wien, interdisziplinäre Studien
Project Leader: Univ.-Prof. Ing. Dr.phil. Verena Winiwarter
Duration: 01.10.2013 - 30.09.2015
Funded by: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)


Umweltgeschichte Skitourismus: Alpine Skiläufer und die Umgestaltung alpiner Täler im 20. Jahrhundert

Keyword: Winterskitourismus, Regionalgeschichte, LTSER, Vorarlberg, Umweltgeschichte
Project Leader: Univ.-Prof. Ing. Dr.phil. Verena Winiwarter
Duration: 01.03.2012 - 28.02.2015
Funded by: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)


Water and Transition - Flußlandschaften und Wassernutzung am Übergang zur Urban-Industriellen Gesellschaft: Eine Umweltgeschichte des Einzugsgebietes des Po von 1860-2000

Keyword: Industrialisierung, sozialökologische Langzeitforschung, Fluss Geschichte
Project Leader: Univ.Prof. Dr. Fridolin Krausmann
Duration: 16.08.2013 - 15.08.2016
Funded by: European Commission, FP7, Marie Curie

Water-City-Vienna. A changing metropolis (Wasser-Stadt-Wien)

Project Leader: Gertrud Haidvogl 
BOKU Research Units: Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management
Duration: 01.11.2017-31.12.2018
Funded by: City of Vienna, Austria