Department Environmental Social Sciences

GreenCityNet: Social-ecological networks to enhance biodiversity in urban green areas

Unprecedented high rates of urbanization with an impact on biodiversity and related consequences for safety and quality of life is among the biggest challenges in cities. In this context of growing concerns of global loss of biodiversity, a more active role of cities is required to facilitate and ensure the long-term persistence of biodiversity. A key role were attributed to Urban green areas (UGA) in urban biodiversity management because of their role in providing functional green infrastructure supporting both, ecological habitat and human needs for safe, resilient and sustainable cities.

However, the spatial dynamics of networks of UGA is complex and depends on continuously shifting, interacting social, ecological, cultural and economic factors that make the management and governance of UGA difficult. The challenge of cities is therefore to go beyond the mere provision of amenities by offering synergistic and ecologically functional habitat that maintain biodiversity while meeting human needs for safe and sustainable cities. For offering the synergistic and ecologically functional habitat, social-ecological networks (SEN) have been suggested to help disentangle and analyze such complex social-ecological systems. SEN combine the ecological networks with social networks among stakeholders relevant to the management and governance of ecological issues.

The main objective of GreenCityNet project is to quantify and evaluate the structure and function of urban SEN to enhance biodiversity in collaboration with stakeholders. By investigating the interactions between ecological and social networks of UGA, the aim of the project is to derive a fully operationalized prototype SEN typology of UGA. This is based on empirically validated social-ecological networks as a basis to evaluate transformation pathways related to UGA and biodiversity.

The combination of stakeholder inputs with empirical evidence from surveys to evaluate typologies of UGA will be in five Swiss case-study cities (Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lugano). We will be able to test the transferability of results within and between study cities with respect to biodiversity and the results of GreenCityNet project will provide a baseline for co-designing sustainable urban transformation pathways. This baseline will also let us to elaborate general recommendations for policy makers that guide sustainable urban development and identify current and future challenges related to UGA and biodiversity information for implementation into policy documents.

Project Team

Dr. Tural Aliyev Postdoctoral Researcher Tel. +41 58 765 5669 Send Mail
Natascha Zinn Tel. +41 58 765 6841 Send Mail
Dr. Manuel Fischer Head of Department ESS & Group leader PEGO Tel. +41 58 765 5676 Send Mail

External team members

PD Dr. Janine Bolliger (Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL)


Dr. Tural Aliyev Postdoctoral Researcher Tel. +41 58 765 5669 Send Mail


Swiss National Science Foundation SNFS

Project duration: 2023 - 2026