LTSER and Environmental History

Activity report 2015_2016

Long-term socio-ecological research and Environmental History

Martin Schmid,
Co-ordinators: Assoc.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Martin Schmid [] and Mag. Dr. Gertrud Haidvogl []


The Danube riverine landscapes have been the site of human interventions into land-cover and hydrology, challenging societies along its banks for millennia. The Danube river basin exhibits a plethora of environmental problems, many of which are likely to be exacerbated by global climate change and other driving factors, both in the bio- as well as in the anthroposphere. None of these problems can be addressed without knowledge about human impacts on the river and the river’s impact on humans over time.

This IAD-expert group links existing research and aims to break new ground towards integrated, interdisciplinary long-term socio-ecological research and environmental histories of the Danube from prehistory to the present. In such environmental histories, social and natural dynamics are of equal importance, because the main focus is their interaction. This requires the cooperation of several disciplines. The core interest of this group’s interdisciplinary efforts is the comparative study of long-term socio-ecological developments in the Danube river basin.

Long-term socio-ecological research, LTSER, was developed from long-term ecological research, taking into account that the study of landscapes and sites where human intervention has taken place and continues to take place is important for planning a sustainable future. Since the field of environmental history developed its own contours in the 1970s, pollution, environmentalism, climate, resource use and abuse and its environmental effects, the study of conservation history and, more recently, the environmental effects of war and the human body in polluted environments have been studied. An environmental history of the Danube River Basin necessarily has to combine many of these themes, taking the diversity of environments, societies and cultures along the river into account.

LTSER and environmental history, with their ability to integrate natural sciences and humanities, that is, to integrate research on the impact of human interventions with that on the reasons for such interventions, is ideally suited to provide the community of Danube researchers with long-term case studies which allow management decisions to be based on the firm ground of historical knowledge.

Core publications:

Current core activities: