Dr. Cornelia Hett

Senior Research Scientist

Land Resources Cluster

+41 31 631 88 45
Postal Address
Dr. Cornelia Hett
Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)
University of Bern
Mittelstrasse 43
CH-3012 Bern

Areas of professional focus at CDE

  • Land change sciences: I study patterns and processes at the landscape level caused by ecological and anthropogenic drivers. I also investigate the impacts and outcomes of changes in the socio-ecological system, particularly implications of large scale land acquisitions on rural livelihoods in developing countries.
  • Agro-biodiversity: I focus on lived-in landscapes and investigate the interlinkage of people with their environment through agricultural activities – what genetic resources, management systems and practices are used by culturally diverse peoples? What are the major causes of agro-biodiversity loss and the implications on local livelihoods? What are the linkages of agro-biodiversity and human nutrition.
  • Transdisciplinary research methods: I work at the interface between science, practice and policy decision-making. In this space I employ different forms of multi-stakeholder consultation processes in order to foster the co-production of knowledge and solutions to sustainability problems.
  • Working with spatially explicit and big datasets: With a background in geography and computer sciences I have a fondness for spatially explicit analysis and utilizing large datasets to explore problems related to land resources.


​Further professional interests

  • Teaching and capacity building: I enjoy being active in adult education and sharing my knowledge with students across the spectrum of academic levels and topical focus.
  • The interface of science-policy-practice: I work at this interface with changing roles – once it is as researcher, other times as project coordinator of development projects, at other times it is as scientific adviser for political decision-makers. I am passionate about nurturing this interface and getting inspired by it.
  • Linking sustainability into the sectors of economy and finance. I see these linkages as necessary in order to bring impact for sustainable behaviour to scale.

Field experience

Laos, Kenya, Madagascar, Vietnam, Thailand, Costa Rica, USA, Germany


German, English, French, Spanish, Lao

Jump to: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010


Hett, Cornelia; Nanhthavong, Vong; Hanephom, Savanh; Phommachanh, Anongsone; Sidavong, Boungnong; Phouangphet, Ketkeo; Lu, Juliet; Shattuck, Annie; Ingalls, Micah; Bernhard, Rasso; Phathitmixay, Souphaphone; Phomphakdy, Chanthavone; Heinimann, Andreas; Epprecht, Michael (2020). Land Leases and Concessions in the Lao PDR: A characterization of investments in land and their impacts (In Press). Bern: Bern Open Publishing

Hett, Cornelia; Nanhthavong, Vong; Hanephom, Savanh; Phommachanh, Anongsone; Sidavong, Boungnong; Phouangphet, Ketkeo; Lu, Juliet; Shattuck, Annie; Ingalls, Micah; Bernhard, Rasso; Phathitmixay, Souphaphone; Phomphakdy, Chanthavone; Heinimann, Andreas; Epprecht, Michael (2020). ການເຊົ່າ ແລະ ສຳປະທານທີ່ດິນລັດຢູ່ ສປປ ລາວ: ການຈຳແນກຄຸນລັກສະນະ ແລະ ຜົນກະທົບຈາກ ການລົງທຶນໃນຂົງເຂດທີ່ດິນ ແລະ ຊັບພະຍາກອນທຳມະຊາດ. Bern: Bern Open Publishing

Rist, Stephan; Bürgi Bonanomi, Elisabeth; Giger, Markus; Hett, Cornelia; Scharrer, Bettina; Jacobi, Johanna; Lannen, Anu (2020). Variety is the source of life: Agrobiodiversity benefits, challenges, and needs (Swiss Academies Factsheets 15 (1)). Bern: Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) 10.5281/zenodo.3568133

Hett, Cornelia; Pilakone, Phaythoun; Kamp, Kevin; Ingalls, Micah; Heinimann, Andreas (2020). Bottom-up land use planning for equitable rural development in Lao PDR. In: Wymann von Dach, Susanne; Ruiz Peyré, Fernando (eds.) Vibrant mountain communities. Regional development in mountains: Realizing potentials, tackling disparities (pp. 18-20). Bern, Switzerland: Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, with Bern Open Publishing (BOP) 10.7892/boris.146720

Nanhthavong, Vong; Epprecht, Michael; Hett, Cornelia; Zaehringer, Julie G.; Messerli, Peter (2020). Poverty trends in villages affected by land-based investments in rural Laos. Applied geography, 124(102298), p. 102298. Elsevier 10.1016/j.apgeog.2020.102298


Ingalls, Micah L.; Hett, Cornelia; Thannasack, Phetsaphone; Phyoyyavong, Khamphou; Rasso, Bernhard; Chanthasumlet, Yothin; Philakone, Phaythoune (2019). New Directions for Participatory Land Use Planning: Can Bottom-Up Approaches Achieve a Win-Win for Sustainable Development and Forest Conservation? (NAFRI Research Brief 002). Bern, Switzerland: Vientiane, Lao PDR, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern 10.13140/RG.2.2.25407.05283


Hett, Cornelia; Nanhthavong, Vong; Kenney-Lazar, Miles; Phouangphet, Ketkeo; Hanephom, Savanh (2018). Assessing land investment quality - A methodology to assess the quality of land concessions and leases in the Lao PDR. Bern, Switzerland: Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, with Bern Open Publishing

Ingalls, Micah; Diepart, Jean-Christophe; Truong, Nhu; Hayward, Daniel; Neil, Tony; Phomphakdy, Chanthavone; Bernhard, Rasso; Fogarizzu, Sinu; Epprecht, Michael; Nanhthavong, Vong; Vo, Dang Hung; Nguyen, Dzung; Nguyen, Phong Anh; Saphangthong, Thatheva; Inthavong, Chanthaviphone; Hett, Cornelia; Tagliarino, Nicholas (eds.) (2018). State of Land in the Mekong Region. Bern, Switzerland and Vientiane, Lao PDR: Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, and Mekong Region Land Governance, with Bern Open Publishing

Kenney-Lazar, Miles; Dwyer, Michael; Hett, Cornelia (2018). Turning Land into Capital: Assessing A Decade of Policy in Practice. A Report Commissioned by the Land Information Working Group (LIWG) Vientiane, Laos: Land Information Working Group (LIWG)


Mertz, Ole; Grogan, Kenneth; Pflugmacher, Dirk; Lestrelin, Guillaume; Castella, Jean-Christophe; Vongvisouk, Thoumthone; Hett, Cornelia; Fensholt, Rasmus; Sun, Zhanli; Berry, Nicholas; Müller, Daniel (2017). Uncertainty in establishing forest reference levels and predicting future forest-based carbon stocks for REDD+. Journal of land use science, 13(1-2), pp. 1-15. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/1747423X.2017.1410242

Bürgi, Matthias; Ali, Panna; Chowdhury, Afroza; Heinimann, Andreas; Hett, Cornelia; Kienast, Felix; Mondal, Manoranjan Kumar; Upreti, Bishnu Raj; Verburg, Peter H. (2017). Integrated Landscape Approach: Closing the Gap between Theory and Application. Sustainability, 9(8), p. 1371. MDPI 10.3390/su9081371

Heinimann, Andreas; Flint, Chris; Bernhard, Rasso; Hett, Cornelia (2017). Putting upland agriculture on the map: The TABI experience in Laos. In: Cairns, Malcom (ed.) Shifting Cultivation Policies: Balancing Environmental and Social Sustainability (pp. 819-835). Wallingford, United Kingdom: CABI


Zähringer, Julie Gwendolin; Hett, Cornelia; Ramamonjisoa, Bruno; Messerli, Peter (2016). Beyond deforestation monitoring in conservation hotspots: Analysing landscape mosaic dynamics in north-eastern Madagascar. Applied geography, 68, pp. 9-19. Elsevier 10.1016/j.apgeog.2015.12.009

Heinimann, Andreas; Hett, Cornelia (2016). Looking beyond individual hydropower project. In: Wymann von Dach, Susanne; Bachmann, Felicitas; Borsdorf, Axel; Kohler, Thomas; Jurek, Matthias; Sharma, Eklabya (eds.) Investing in sustainable mountain development: Opportunities, resources and benefits (pp. 18-19). Bern: Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, with Bern Open Publishing (BOP)


Messerli, Peter; Bader, Christoph; Hett, Cornelia; Epprecht, Michael; Heinimann, Andreas (2015). Towards a spatial understanding of trade-offs in sustainable development: A meso-scale analysis of the nexus between land use, poverty, and environment in the Lao PDR. PLoS ONE, 10(7), e0133418. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0133418

Zähringer, Julie Gwendolin; Hett, Cornelia; Messerli, Peter (2015). Landscape mosaics to map shifting cultivation dynamics in a global biodiversity hotspot - insights from north-eastern Madagascar. In: Kettle, Chris J.; Magrach, Ainhoa (eds.) Annual Conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology. Resilience of Tropical Ecosystems - Future challenges and opportunities. Zurich, Switzerland. 07.-10.04.2015.


Zähringer, Julie Gwendolin; Hett, Cornelia; Eckert, Sandra; Ramamonjisoa, Bruno; Messerli, Peter (2014). Shifting cultivation dynamics within an ecosystem service hotspot of pronounced global interest – a first step towards negotiating trade-offs in North-East Madagascar. Proceedings of the Global Land Project 2nd Open Science Meeting, Berlin, March 19-21, 2014, pp. 196-197.

Heinimann, Andreas; Schoenweger, Oliver; Epprecht, Michael; Nanhthavong, Vong; Hett, Cornelia (2014). On the right path? Land concessions in Laos (CDE Policy Brief 3). Bern, Switzerland: Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)


Hurni, Kaspar; Hett, Cornelia; Heinimann, Andreas; Messerli, Peter; Wiesmann, Urs (2013). Dynamics of Shifting Cultivation Landscapes in Northern Lao PDR Between 2000 and 2009 Based on an Analysis of MODIS Time Series and Landsat Images. Human ecology, 41(1), pp. 21-36. New-York, NY: Springer US; http://www.springer-ny.com 10.1007/s10745-012-9551-y

Castella, Jean-Christophe; Lestrelin, Guillaume; Hett, Cornelia; Bourgoin, Jeremy; Fitriana, Yulia Rahma; Heinimann, Andreas; Pfund, Jean-Laurent (2013). Effects of Landscape Segregation on Livelihood Vulnerability: Moving From Extensive Shifting Cultivation to Rotational Agriculture and Natural Forests in Northern Laos. Human ecology, 41(1), pp. 63-76. New-York, NY: Springer 10.1007/s10745-012-9538-8

Bourgoin, Jeremy; Castella, Jean-Christophe; Hett, Cornelia; Lestrelin, Guillaume; Heinimann, Andreas (2013). Engaging Local Communities in Low Emissions Land-Use Planning: a Case Study from Laos. Ecology and Society, 18(2), p. 9. Resilience Alliance Publications 10.5751/ES-05362-180209

Heinimann, Andreas; Hett, Cornelia; Hurni, Kaspar; Messerli, Peter; Epprecht, Michael; Jørgensen, Lars; Breu, Thomas Michael (2013). Socio-Economic Perspectives on Shifting Cultivation Landscapes in Northern Laos. Human ecology, 41(1), pp. 51-62. Springer US; http://www.springer-ny.com 10.1007/s10745-013-9564-1

Hett, Cornelia; Zähringer, Julie Gwendolin; Messerli, Peter; Eckert, Sandra; Huafang, Chen; Schmidt-Vogt, Dietrich (2013). Landscape mosaics maps as a basis for spatial assessment and negotiation of ecosystem services and their trade-offs at the meso-scale: Examples from Laos, Madagascar and China. In: 6th Annual International ESP Conference 2013. Making ecosystem services count!. Indonesien. 26.-30.08.2013.

Zähringer, Julie Gwendolin; Hett, Cornelia; Eckert, Sandra; Ramamonjisoa, Bruno; Messerli, Peter (2013). Ecosystem service trade-offs and stakeholder claims - a meso-scale study from a Madagascar biodiversity hotspot. In: 6th Annual international ESP conference 2013. Making ecosystem services count!. Indonesien. 26.-30.08.2013.

Zähringer, Julie Gwendolin; Hett, Cornelia; Eckert, Sandra; Ramamonjisoa, Bruno; Messerli, Peter (2013). Paysages, acteurs et services environnementaux au nord-est de Madagascar – une analyse éco-régionale (Unpublished). In: La biodiversité et les populations dans le contexte du changement climatique. Antananarivo, Madagaskar. 10.-11.12.2013.


Hett, Cornelia; Castella, Jean-Christophe; Heinimann, Andreas; Messerli, Peter; Pfund, Jean-Laurent (2012). A landscape mosaics approach for characterizing swidden systems from a REDD+ perspective. Applied geography, 32(2), pp. 608-618. Oxford: Elsevier 10.1016/j.apgeog.2011.07.011

Van Vliet, Nathalie; Mertz, Ole; Heinimann, Andreas; Langanke, Tobias; Pascual, Unai; Schmook, Birgit; Adams, Cristina; Schmidt-Vogt, Dietrich; Messerli, Peter; Leisz, Stephen; Castella, Jean-Christophe; Jørgensen, Lars; Birch-Thomsen, Torben; Hett, Cornelia; Bech-Bruun, Thilde; Ickowitz, Amy; Chi Vu, Kim; Yasuyuki, Kono; Fox, Jefferson; Padoch, Christine; ... (2012). Trends, drivers and impacts of changes in swidden cultivation in tropical forest-agriculture frontiers: A global assessment. Global environmental change, 22(2), pp. 418-429. Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.10.009

Heinimann, Andreas; Hurni, Kaspar; Hett, Cornelia; Epprecht, Michael; Schönweger, Oliver (2012). Multiple claims to land resources in the Lao PDR: Issues of lacking cross-sectoral spatial planning. In: International Conference on Research for Development (ICRD). Research for Global Transformation. Bern: Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

Hett, Cornelia; Heinimann, Andreas; Epprecht, Michael; Messerli, Peter; Hurni, Kaspar (2012). Carbon pools and poverty peaks in Lao PDR. Mountain Research and Development, 32(4), pp. 390-399. Boulder, Colo.: International Mountain Society 10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-12-00065.1

Mertz, Ole; Müller, Daniel; Sikor, Thomas; Hett, Cornelia; Heinimann, Andreas; Castella, Jean-Christophe; Lestrelin, Guillaume; Ryan, Casey M.; Reay, David S.; Schmidt-Vogt, Dietrich; Danielsen, Finn; Theilade, Ida; Noordwijk, Meine van; Verchot, Louis V.; Burgess, Neil D.; Berry, Nicholas J.; Pham, Thu Thuy; Messerli, Peter; Xu, Jianchu; Fensholt, Rasmus; ... (2012). The forgotten D: challenges of addressing forest degradation in complex mosaic landscapes under REDD+. Geografisk tidskrift - Danish journal of geography, 112(1), pp. 63-76. København: Routledge; Taylor & Francis Group 10.1080/00167223.2012.709678

Hett, Cornelia (2012). A spatial assessment of changes in land use and carbon stocks in Laos. A Contribution to policy and decision making for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Bern: Geographisches Institut der Universität Bern


Hett, Cornelia; Heinimann, Andreas; Messerli, Peter (2011). Spatial assessment of carbon stocks of living vegetation at the national level in Lao PDR. Geografisk tidskrift - Danish journal of geography, 111(1), pp. 11-26. København: Routledge; Taylor & Francis Group 10.1080/00167223.2011.10669519


Hett, Cornelia; Hurni, Kaspar; Heinimann, Andreas; Mueller, Daniel (2010). Assessing landscape changes in Laos using MODIS Enhanced Vegetation Index (Unpublished). In: Integrated Training and Capitalising on Experience (ITC). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 01.09.-12.09.2010.

  • ESP – Ecosystem Services Partnership: a worldwide network to enhance the science, policy and practice of ecosystem services for conservation and sustainable development
  • GLP – Global Land Programme: An interdisciplinary community of science and practice fostering the study of land systems and the co-design of solutions for global sustainability
  • Td-net - Network for Transdisciplinary Research
  • PAR - The Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research