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Meier, A. / Meier AND Müller / Wald OR Schutz / Wald AND NOT Risiko

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2010, 2008-2009

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Abo magazine DIAGONAL
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WSL Magazine Diagonal No. 2/15

Diagonal 2/14 E
Read Diagonal online

Focus Soil: Precious dirt at our feet

What do you think of when you hear the word soil? Do you smell the moist, slightly musty soil of the forest? Do you feel the dried earth in your hands from your gardening? Do you multiply land prices by square meters in your head?
From an environmental perspec­tive, soil is the foundation of life. It has been formed over thousands of years from bedrock through the interaction of climate and organisms, primarily countless fungi, bacteria and plants. It holds back rainwater, stores nutrients, is the habitat for thousands of creatures and serves as a carbon sink. However, if new hous­ing and roads are built, if pollutants penetrate into the ground, or if heavy machinery damages the soil, it loses the ability to perform these functions in the ecosystem. It takes decades or even centuries for damaged soil to become fertile again – in terms of human life, soil as a natural resource is not renewable.


    A lot of strain is being placed on our soils. What are researchers doing to ensure that the most important basis for life is preserved?
    Changes in raised bogs in Switzer­land reveal how bogs in the far north might be modified by climate change.
    Gaby von Rohr, Office for the Environment, canton of Solothurn: “Conflicts over soil use will intensify in the coming years.”
    WSL has been examining how various environmental effects are changing the forest and its soil since 1994.

More informations

The object: Lab-microtome (movie)

Labor-Mikrotom The lab-microtome is a proprietary development of the WSL. It helps to prepare thin section slides for
microscopic analysis of wood samples.
Soil - Precious dirt at your feet

WSL has a long tradition in looking at the properties of soils and the processes that occur below ground. Researchers have made great advances in recent years, especially in the field of microbial ecology.

Available languages: German  English  French 

Key topics


  • Sycamore groves – tracing a traditional cultural landscape
  • What ibex horns reveal about changed environmental conditions


  • Tending young mixed deciduous forests promotes tree diversitye
  • Are the beetles on the fly? The bark beetle forecast on screen
  • – heading into the next decade with a new app


  • Renewable energy case study: the canton of Aargau as a model for the upcoming energy transition
  • How does the canton of Aargau intend to produce more energy from renewable resources?

Natural hazards

  • Debris flow research: large landslides or small rivulets?
  • Dangerous snow overhangs: Making tunnel entrances safer for drivers

Snow and ice

  • Expedition to Greenland: studying perennial snow cover using radar, the SnowMicroPen and weather stations


Dominik Brödlin, biologist
Heike Lischke, biologist
Cornelia Accola-Gansner, geoscientist

Sustainability report