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DTM - Mountain territories development

  • Department : Territoires
  • Center : Grenoble

The research and analysis of the Mountain Territories Development Research Unit mainly involves social and soft sciences. Work is aimed at characterising and facilitating the integration of environmental considerations into rural and mountain development plans as part of overall sustainable development.

The DTM research unit

Work concentrates on rural and mountain territories, from rural areas on the fringes of cities to protected areas. These regions are subject to significant pressure, especially from urban factors, and their environment represents a development asset – since it offers amenities that can be harnessed – and a major vulnerability, since it must be preserved. We look especially closely at agriculture in mountain areas with a view to encouraging sustainable agriculture by balancing farming needs with those of the environment. We also examine tourist activities in terms of how they are organised and their consequences for given regions. Our sociological research seeks to increase understanding of contemporary evolutions in ‘nature policies’ and environmental science policies and how these overlap. Research examines territories as study subjects and analyses the operators, practices and public policies that influence, or derive from, their development. The research is carried out in the aim of supporting decision-making and development policies.

Research topics

The unit’s work is undertaken under the "Territorial Development and Multi-purpose Agriculture" (DTAM RT) research topic. This scientific framework structure forms a network covering 3 research units based in Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand and Grenoble. The aim is to enrich knowledge of the linkages between economic activities and the environment.


The Research Unit consists of 28 people, including 21 scientists, 2 research support staff, 4 doctoral students and 1 post-doctoral student.


The unit is divided into 4 teams:


The DTM unit has a substantial store of statistical and geographic information to support the research performed by the teams. This store has been built up over 20 years and includes statistical data on demographics, agriculture and economic activities in districts and geographical data on spatial lay-outs and natural environments. By using this information along with data analysis tools and methods and GIS, we can compile quantitative and spatial characterisations of territories.

This special information system on territories is accessible through an intranet portal.

Theses in progress or recently completed

  • Arnaud Cosson, Irstea doctoral student,  IEP Paris (Paris Institute of Political Science), 2009-2013, Actual size sociological study of the renewal of public territorial action through analysis of the application of a new law on national parks, particularly the charters that it introduces.
  • Antoine Doré, doctor of sociology at the Paris Institute of Political Science (IEP Paris) and doctor of environmental science and management at the University of Liège (ULG), 2011, "Wolves in the City. Components of pragmatic ecology.”
  • Gabriel Fablet, Irstea doctoral student - EDYTEM, 2010-2013, funded by the Comité de massif des Alpes (Alps range management committee) and Irstea, Analysis of the dynamics of land and leisure property ownership in mountain resorts.
  • Christine Léger, doctoral student at AgroParisTech, economics, land transfer, land systems and farming strategies, 2011-2014 (based at Irstea Metafort mixed research unit in Clermont-Ferrand)
  • France Loubet, doctoral student - Pierre Mendès University – France (UPMF), 2008-2011 funded by the Rhône-Alpes Regional Authority as part of Cluster 12, programme 3 (Mobility, territoriality, marginality) "Analysis of the impact of tourism on the development of remote rural areas. Application of the capacity-based approach to studying rural areas in the Rhône-Alpes region".
  • Clémence Massart, Irstea doctoral student – National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA-RiTME), UPMF-ULG, 2009-2012, Analysis of the emergence of zoonoses carried by castor bean ticks: the cease of Lyme disease.
  • Médulline Terrier, Irstea doctoral student – INRA-SAD, 2009-2012, ABIES doctoral school. "Characterisation of changes in family ties – technical performance of agricultural activity in the long-term. The case of dairy cow rearing in Vercors".
  • Yves Schaeffer, Irstea doctoral student, UB-LISIT doctoral school, 2006-2012. Three essays on the links between territorial inequalities and social inequalities.

Post-doctoral students

Michel Daccache, post-doctoral student, Science, the market and biodiversity. The place and role of researchers in the ‘neo-liberalisation of the environment’.



PRES Grenoble, Innovation and Mountain Territories Laboratory of Excellence, GIS Alpes-Jura, Regional Development Programme, INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research)


Protect areas (including national parks, regional natural parks, natural reserves), DATAR (Regional management authority), mountain range management authorities and territorial authorities


Research Unit Manager
Emmanuelle George-Marcelpoil
+33 4 76 76 27 50
Research Unit Deputy Manager
Jean-Jacques Collicard
+33 4 76 76 27 36
Research Unit Assistant
Corinne Manquat
+33 4 76 76 27 60

Domaine universitaire, 2 rue de la papeterie, BP 76, 38402 Saint-Martin-d'Hères Cedex