Link zu WSL Hauptseite Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL


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Magazine Diagonal Nr. 1/15 (in German and French)



Further information

Monitoring - Making environmental change visible

Our environment is under constant observation. Never before have monitoring activities generated such massive data flows as they do nowadays. The Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) and the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) alone gather information about the environment in thousands of locations across Switzerland. On top of that, we also have data from satellites, aerial images and, more recently, drones. But what do we need all those data for?

CH-Karte Monitoring
WSL and SLF’s locations and their research and testing areas. PDF-Version.

Long-term observation of the environment is the only way to identify the slow – and as such, often practically unnoticeable – developments that take place and discover the complex connections between them. For instance, we need to take measurements over several decades if we wish to understand the impact of climate change on forests, landscapes, biodiversity, snowpack or the frequency of natural disasters.

WSL collects the data, analyses them and uses them either to chart past developments or, assisted by models, to forecast possible trends for the future. WSL is also involved in developing the ENVIDAT database with a view to guaranteeing easy access to data for both scientific and practical purposes.

You can find more detailed information about our monitoring activities in the latest issue of our magazine, DIAGONAL (in German and French).




Is the forest area growing or shrinking and what influences tree growth?


Natural disasters


Are rockfalls and mudflows becoming more common?




How has the landscape developed from a scientific and socio-scientific viewpoint?


Snow and ice

Schnee und Eis

What impact is climate change having on snowpack, glaciers and permafrost?




How are changes in the landscape affecting flora and fauna?