Forest under pressure: Diseases, pests and disturbances

Climate change, but also disturbances such as insect infestations, pathogens or storms are putting pressure on our forests. Non-native organisms also alter various ecosystems. We investigate how illnesses affect trees and forests, how they can withstand disturbances and how well they recover afterwards.

Fungi and – in rarer cases – bacteria, nematodes, phytoplasms or viruses along with a huge variety of insects infest and cause harm to trees. Climate change is expected to increase these infestations. A warmer climate will also favour the survival of non-native pests, which trees are less well-equipped to combat than native pests.

Monitoring forest health

Our research groups Phytopathology, Forest Entomology and Forest Protection Switzerland are at work for forest health. We determine harmful organisms such as insects and fungi, investigate how they spread, how they attack their hosts or how they can be biologically controlled. Our main focus is on quarantine organisms whose spread in Switzerland must be prevented at all costs. We can examine these under high-security conditions in our plant protection laboratory.  We offer diagnostics of pathogens as well as advice and further training for forestry professionals.

Storms, forest fires, avalanches

Extreme events such as storms, forest fires, droughts and avalanches can severely impair forest services such as a protection against natural hazards or timber production. They are expected to increase under rapidly advancing climate change. We investigate their effects on the forest, its function and development, and advise forestry practice.

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