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2015 Annual report

In keeping with the new Swiss legislation on financial reporting, the Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) is for the first time publishing an annual report in accordance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The report consists of three parts:

  1. An Annual Report (Notes on Corporate Governance and Business Development)
  2. A Financial Report
  3. Annexes to the Financial Report

In keeping with Switzerland's multilingualism, parts of the report were written in French, German and Italian.

Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL (Hrsg.), 2016:
Geschäftsbericht der Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL 2015.

WSL Ber. 43: 85 S.

Facts and figures


Accounting standard

Since 1 January 2015, the WSL's annual accounts have been drawn up in accordance with IPSAS. This represents a paradigm shift away from the previously used cash accounting to accrual accounting. To enable a comparison with the previous year all the same, the figures for 2014 were recalculated in accordance with IPSAS.

Income statement

Compared with the 2014 accounts, the WSL's income rose by CHF 5.8 million (up 7%), totalling CHF 83 million in 2015. Compared with the previous year, federal government funding rose by CHF 2.6 million (up 5%) to CHF 54 million, 65% of the WSL's operating costs. Compared with the 2014 accounts, more second- and third-party funding was received. Income from second and third parties totals CHF 27 million, equivalent to roughly 32% of the WSL's operating income.

The year-end result totals CHF 7 million, which is CHF 4.7 million more than in the previous year (2014: CHF 2.3 million). Operating income rose more than operating costs, which helped to achieve a better year-end result in 2015.

Operating costs in 2015 totalled CHF 76 million. Compared with the previous year, personnel expenses rose by CHF 500,000 (up 1%). Personnel expenses, which total CHF 56 million, account for the lion's share (74%) of operating costs.

in thousands of Swiss francs
2014 2015
Basic federal government funding 
Research contributions, research contracts and scientific services   23'376
  Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)   3'706 5'466
  Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI)   284 437
  Research from federal offices (federal research contracts)   15'772 17'609
  EU framework research programmes (FRPs)   1'075 573
  Business-oriented research   789
  Other project-oriented third-party funding   1'751
Endowments, legacies and other income   2'655
Operating income   77'370 83'136
Personnel expenses   55'760
Material expenses    17'446 17'815
Write-offs           1'216 1'093
Transfer expenses   705
Operating costs   75'126 75'999

Financial result

  30 -179
Year-end result   2'274  6'959


In 2015, the 432.1 full-time equivalents (FTEs) were divided between 496 employment contracts (ECs). Full-time scientists accounted for 56.8% of all staff. The 173 female employees accounted for 34.9% of all staff. 15 young people were doing apprenticeships at the WSL.

Number of persons in 2015* Men


   ECs FTEs
Research staff          185 168.3
   281  245.4
Technical staff  113 104.5
   148  131
Administrative staff  14 12.2
   52  40.7
 11 11
   15  15
Total  323 296.0
   496  432.1
* excluding employees paid by the hour

Twenty-seven per cent of employees came from abroad, half of them from Germany. The foreign staff members come from 25 different countries. Language communities were represented as follows: German was the mother tongue of most employees (87%). 4.2% of staff had French as their mother tongue; 2.4% had Italian and 3.6% had English.

In 2014, the WSL launched a Visiting Fellows programme to increase research collaboration with foreign scientists. The aim of this programme is to enable leading international researchers at an advanced stage of their career to spend some time at the WSL, conducting research together with WSL employees. Four visiting scientists from different North American research establishments worked at the WSL in 2015.

The WSL actively promotes emerging talent and equal opportunities in a number of ways. It supports young researchers, either by offering them personal advice or coaching or by giving them the opportunity as PhD students or post-doctoral researchers to take part in the ETH domain's multidisciplinary career-building programme for women in science: Fix the Leaky Pipeline. The WSL's PHD Club, organised by the doctoral students themselves, is aimed at up-and-coming researchers of both genders. Besides social exchanges and continuing training courses, the Career Day, where openings both inside and outside academia were presented, also proved particularly popular.

The WSL is committed to ensuring that sufficient numbers of young people embark on university courses or careers in the MINT domains (mathematics, informatics, natural sciences and technology). Sometimes it does this directly (e.g. in 2015, 40 children and young people visited the WSL and its Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) on National Future Day), other times indirectly, by having the SLF offer its first ever modules for fledgling trainee teachers and secondary school teaching staff.

WSL publications

The number of publications is a key factor in research. There are three types of publication: Institute for Scientific Information (or ISI-indexed) publications, reviewed non-ISI-indexed publications and implementation publications. ISI-indexed publications are scientific peer-reviewed articles in journals that are indexed in an international database and bibliometrically analysed.

In 2015, WSL researchers produced 411 ISI-indexed publications, 58% more than 5 years ago. In 2015, 102 articles were published in peer-reviewed non-ISI-indexed journals, and WSL staff produced 449 implementation publications, aimed at practitioners.

Number of publications 2015
2014 2013
ISI-indexed publications   411
405 363 308
ISI-indexed publications counted using the new method*   0
0 17
Reviewed non-ISI-indexed publications   102
72 137 74 126
Implementation publications   449
Total 962
*Web-of-Science-indexed publications not previously included in the WSL database

The marked increase in recent years in the number of scientific publications, many of which were published in the leading journals in their respective domains; the twofold increase in the number of quotations in just five years; the consistently high output of implementation publications and the strong presence of WSL researchers in the media are all clear indications that our work is relevant and valued by academics and society alike.