Forest-site science: Soil and site information for Swiss Forests

Spatially-explicit knowledge of soil properties and functions is a prerequisite to sustainably manage forests to fulfil their ecosystem services under the increasing pressure by climatic changes.

Soil and site information

We therefore provide soil and other site information for the Swiss forest as basis to achieve various research objectives, using the following tools:

Objective 1: Constraining ecological niches of plant species

This research focuses on the question how plant species respond to major growth factors in forests such as temperature, moisture and nutrient availability. Considering the long life-span of trees and their strong interactions with the soil, constraining the ecological niches and response to environmental factors of tree species is important for forest management in a climatically changing world (project: «Soil as a site factor»)

Objective 2: Assessing change of Swiss forest soils

We take inventories of soils on 172 sites located on the 8 x 8 km sub-grid of the National Forest Inventory. In the framework of ICP Forests, we sampled and analysed soil profiles on these sites a first time in 1993, and are currently (2021-2025) performing a second sampling campaign. These are the first steps of a long-term monitoring program that shall allow to assess widely occurring changes in soil properties and functions (project «Forest Soil Inventory»).

Objective 3: Digital soil maps as management tools

Here we aim at producing high-resolution maps of soil properties (current status) and soil functions (future development) as spatially explicit tools for forestry-related policy and decision-makers (collaboration with GIS group WSL, project «High-resolution soil maps for the Swiss forest»).