Gretchen Walters
Assistant professor

University of Lausanne
Institute of geography and sustainability
Mouline - Géopolis 3612
CH-1015 Lausanne
Phone +41 21 692 3072

Landscapes & Societies Group

Landscapes are dynamic places, bearing the marks of the past through present day societal interactions and readable through its vegetation, animal and other components. In a given place, whether it be a Swiss alpine pasture or Central African savanna plateaux, the extent and nature of these places is heavily influenced by past practices. These past practices can also directly influence how institutions relate to each other today.

On the one hand, our group studies how societies and cultures shape landscapes over time through cultural practices, such as hunting and agriculture. To interpret these landscapes, we use a historical ecology approach through ethnographic, ethnobotanical, and archival research methods. We also collaborate with ecologists to bring historical perspectives to their plot work.

On the other hand, our group studies the practices of societies and conservation organisations to conserve, restore and protect these landscapes today.This includes community actions to protect their lands, to nature conservation and restoration projects (including protected areas) by governments and international organisations. We use conservation ethnography, interviews, and political ecology approaches to understand the interactions of stakeholders from the field to international fora.

We directly engage with community and conservation organisations, bringing practice and research together. With them, we document conservation practice and work with project managers to improve social aspects of their work.

Our group:

PhD students

Emeline Bifane-Ekomi. Pratiques de consultations des communautés locales des aires protégées au Gabon dans le contexte de la convention sur la diversité biologique 2030. Université Omar Bongo-Gabon, co-supervised with Mesmin Edou.

Ariane Cosiaux, Raphia mambillensis, à la croisée des interactions sociétés - environnement: vers une écologie historique des paysages de la région des Grassfields au Cameroun. Co-supervised with Stéphanie Carrière (IRD, France).

Sergio Couto. The forgotten conservationists: self-governance, adequate recognition and support of commons to achieve sustainability and nature conservation. Co-supervised with José María Martín Civantos, Universidad de Granada, Spain.

Samantha Sithole, Youth engagement with conservation: From global platforms to local landscapes. Co-supervised with Frank Matose (University of Capetown)

Masters students

Sophie Nicod. L'émergence d'un commun urbain à Genève.

Lorraine Hamon. Community engagement in a Swiss protected area.

Simon Cheseaux. La cartographie participative et le processus de réappropriation de la gestion des espaces communautaires et au sein des politiques de conservations de la nature : Étude de cas de la communauté de Massaha au Gabon.