Sustainable quality of life in parks of national importance

Gantrisch region, Switzerland. Photo: zvg


In comparison with other OECD countries, Switzerland displays above-average quality of life. But its prosperity is accompanied by high levels of resource consumption, which contribute to ecological and social problems worldwide. Indeed, Switzerland’s ecological footprint is about three times greater than what could be considered in keeping with planetary boundaries.

Focused on communities in three Swiss regional nature parks as well as a nearby rural control group, this research project examines whether and how high quality of life, in all its facets, is compatible with sustainable development.

Goals

The project surveys people’s perspectives on existing contradictions between quality of life and sustainability. The results should help to identify ways of harmonizing different aspects of life quality and sustainable development in parks and other rural areas.

Work packages and methods

Work package 1

Developing a concept of sustainable quality of life:

  • A concept integrating all relevant aspects of life quality with ecological requirements and intergenerational, global justice aspects.

Work package 2

Qualitative interviews with residents of the Argovia Jurapark, the Gantrisch Nature Park, and the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch, as well as with members of the control group:

  • What promotes and what inhibits harmonization of life quality and sustainability? What linkages exist between sustainable quality of life and regional nature parks? What opportunities for improvement are there for park managers according to the views of respondents?

Work package 3

Quantitative data gathering via written surveys of households in the three parks and among the control group:

  • Statistical assessment of respondents’ subjective life satisfaction, objective quality of life, ecological footprint, sustainability aspects, attitudes/values, and corresponding interrelationships.  

Work package 4

Synthesis analysis:

  • Conclusions regarding sustainable quality of life in parks, sustainable development in rural areas generally, and further development of institutional frameworks in parks of national importance.

Work package 5

Development and testing of an instrument for monitoring sustainable quality of life:

  • Monitoring instrument for regional nature parks, enabling independent assessment of sustainable quality of life as well as comparison over the years and between parks.