Valais is an essentially mountainous region and therefore conducive to the study of natural hazards. Since 1995, basic and applied research in these fields has flourished under an agreement between the WSL station in Sion and the canton of Valais.
The establishment in Valais of a WSL outpost in Sion has facilitated the installation of several full-scale experimental sites for the purpose of research into natural hazards:
- in the Vallée de la Sionne at Arbaz, the only site of its kind in the world for studying major avalanches
- at Illgraben, for debris flows,
- at St. Leonard, for rockfalls,
- at Randa, for permafrost and rock glaciers,
- in several rivers of the Valais region, for sediment transport.
In other respects, the close collaboration between the Institute and the canton's safety experts has allowed avalanche prevention to be improved by contributing a better understanding of snow and meteorological conditions, and by enhancing the flow of information to the population.