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Short portrait of WSL

The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL conducts research into changes in the terrestrial environment, as well as into the use and protection of natural spaces and cultural landscapes. It monitors the condition and development of the forests, landscapes, biodiversity, natural hazards, and snow and ice, and develops sustainable solutions for problems that are relevant to society – together with its partners from science and society.

WSL is organized in Research Units, Research Programmes and Initiatives  and Service and Support Units.

 

WSL has, from the start, been active in all regions in Switzerland. In 1888 the first experimental plots were set up across the country to find out more about tree growth and yield. Today WSL maintains more than 6000 experimental and research plots, including large experimental stations for studying rock fall or debris flow, study areas for monitoring the effects of climate change on forests and sites damaged by storms or fires for investigating the impact of these natural hazards.

WSL is a research institute of the Swiss Confederation. It is part of the ETH Domain and employs approximately 600 people. In addition to the headquarters in Birmensdorf, near Zurich, and to the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos, branch stations in Lausanne and Bellinzona (opened in 1991) and Sion (1996) generate local synergies and reach out to professionals.

As part of an ETH Domain research institute, the Confederation requires the WSL to provide cutting-edge research and social benefits, particularly for Switzerland. One of the WSL's important national functions is to conduct the Swiss National Forest Inventory (NFI) and long-term forest ecosystem monitoring (LWF). It is particularly active in applied research, but basic research is also among its duties. SLF employees develop tools and guidelines for authorities, industry and the public in order to offer them support in natural hazard risk management and in the analysis of climatic and environmental changes. They also share their knowledge by teaching at domestic and foreign universities and by training other professionals.

WSL strives for excellence in terrestrial environmental research to provide solutions improving quality of life in a healthy environment.

Research for People and the Environment

  • WSL explores the dynamics of the terrestrial environment, and the use and protection of natural habitats and cultural landscapes.
  • WSL monitors forests, landscapes, biodiversity, natural hazards, and snow and ice.
  • WSL develops sustainable solutions for socially relevant issues - together with its partners from science and society
  
 

Address and phone number

Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL
Zürcherstrasse 111
CH-8903 Birmensdorf
Tel.: +41 44-739 21 11
Fax: +41 44-739 22 15

 

Facts and figures

Our multilingual yearly report describes the financial aspects of WSL according to IPSAS standards.

Working at the WSL

About 550 researchers, technicians and administrative staff contribute to the worldwide reputation of our environmental research institute.

Research programmes and initiatives

Research programmes and initiatives are inter- and transdisziplinary cooperations, setting priorities in the WSL's research activities.

Experimental sites and laboratories

From the microscope to entire valleys: Our laboratory is the whole of Switzerland. We maintain over 6000 monitoring and research sites.

Portrait

WSL has sites in Birmensdorf, Davos (SLF), Cadenazzo, Lausanne und Sion.

How we conduct our research

At WSL and SLF we work by monitoring, experimenting, modelling and providing information. Thus we contribute to solutions of societal challenges.

 

New

The Sustainable Development Goals are intended to lead into a sustainable future. Read what WSL is contributing in the new DIAGONAL magazine.

Boris and Johannes installing the laser scanner at the base of the ice cliffs (image credit: Marin Kneib)

WSL glaciologists repeated a Himalayan expedition by Swiss explorers to collect updated data on the glaciers.

A global 30-year experiment reveals that vegetation is changing substantially in both Arctic and alpine tundra ecosystems.

Beate Jessel will hold her inaugural lecture at the ETH Zurich on the topic "Ecosystem restoration - from global challenge to local implementation".

Nature conservation pays off: amphibian populations in the canton of Aargau are currently recovering thanks to over 400 newly created ponds.

[Translate to Englisch:] Panoramablick vom Rigi

Most endemic fish species of the alps emerged only after the end of the last ice age.

 

Further information