Social science research at the ZMT investigates the interactions between humans and the environment in tropical coastal areas. This includes the development, structure and function of social relationships as well as the analysis of interactions between individuals. An integrated social-ecological perspective is sought through coordination and linkage with the natural science research groups.
In addition to the socio-economic and institutional forces that drive environmental change, the research at the ZMT also focuses on the capacity of social systems to respond and adapt their structure towards the sustainable use of tropical coastal zones. The aim is to contribute to the development of improved management strategies and policy decision-making processes for the conservation and sustainable use of selected tropical ecosystems and natural resources.
These tasks require a comprehensive consideration of the prevailing social and economic conditions, as well as the formal and informal institutions operating in local and regional contexts. The knowledge and priorities of local resource users are, therefore, important building blocks for the long-term sustainable use of tropical ecosystems.