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The landscape provides habitats for diverse flora and fauna and benefit people in many ways. We study the interactions between landscape, humans and biodiversity and develop decision-making bases for sustainable use of the landscape.


Landscapes have a cultural significance for people. They provide habitats for animals, plants and many other organisms. And from an economic point of view, the landscape is a resource, for example for tourism or energy production. Landscapes thus have social, ecological and economic aspects. People, landscape and ecosystems have a reciprocal relationship. We study these interactions and relationships.

The landscape is constantly changing, with consequences for biodiversity and human quality of life. Thanks to comprehensive monitoring, we can recognise and document these changes, both on small and large scales, regardless of whether they proceed quickly or slowly. Thus, we contribute to an early warning system for the benefit of the landscape, and we develop important decision-making bases for government and communities. These can be used, for example, to create landscapes that meet human needs while protecting the environment.

Pooling Knowledge

Landscape research deals with complex topics which require diverse methods, approaches and experiences. An interdisciplinary approach that integrates natural, social and economic sciences is necessary. The Landscape Centre pools the competences of the WSL, while providing an interface for partners such as the federal authorities, cantonal and municipal administrations and non-governmental organisations. The exchange with stakeholders in the field ensures that our research not only serves the purpose of gaining scientific insights, but also provides a benefit to the community and the government.


Focus Areas

Energy potential in the Swiss Alps

We are investigating the necessary quantities of the resources required for the shift to renewables and the potential impact of their use.

Urban Development

The configuration and extent of settlements affect biodiversity and quality of life. We analyse settlement development and its consequences.

Climate Change: Research at the WSL

  We are investigating how climate change will affect forests, water resources, renewable energies and people.

Trockenwiese. Bild: Ariel Bergamini, WSL

Conservation biology and nature reserves

We provide the scientific basis for protecting endangered species and monitoring the quality of habitats. For nature reserves, we research the social...

Adaptation to climate change

We therefore research different possible responses such as the prevention of natural hazards, adaptation to risks and preparation for long-term...

Forest and society

Society has various demands on the Swiss forests. We develop methods for sustainable forest use.

Vor der Gemeindeverwaltung in Brienz, einem grossen Holzhaus, türmen sich Schlamm- und Geröllmassen von einem Murgang. Verschiedene Autos liegen kreuz und quer davor.

Dealing with natural hazards

Through our research and services, we help to protect people effectively and efficiently from natural hazards.

Economic valuation of landscapes

How can the impacts of nature and landscape on society be measured and valued? We address these questions with scientific methods.



Raised bogs have no influx, but receive water only through rainfall. Typical for them are peat mosses and plants adapted to acid soils. (Photo: Lena Gubler, WSL)

How are Swiss peatlands doing and how can they be helped? Experts from research and practice discussed this at a conference at WSL.

New biodiversity maps of Zurich show a high level of biodiversity, with many animal species even resident in the city centre.

Nature against stress, medicine from the cold and the forest facing new challenges: The new issue of DIAGONAL is all about health.

WSL's first hiking guide allows users to discover Valais on foot while learning about research into forests, climate history and avalanches.




Schall, P.; Heinrichs, S.; Ammer, C.; Ayasse, M.; Boch, S.; Buscot, F.; Fischer, M.; Goldmann, K.; Overmann, J.; Schulze, E.; Sikorski, J.; Weisser, W.W.; Wubet, T.; Gossner, M.M., 2021: Among stand heterogeneity is key for biodiversity in managed beech forests but does not question the value of unmanaged forests: response to Bruun and Heilmann‐Clausen (2021). Journal of Applied Ecology, 58, 9: 1817-1826. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13959

Oelmann, Y.; Lange, M.; Leimer, S.; Roscher, C.; Aburto, F.; Alt, F.; Bange, N.; Berner, D.; Boch, S.; Boeddinghaus, R.S.; Buscot, F.; Dassen, S.; De Deyn, G.; Eisenhauer, N.; Gleixner, G.; Goldmann, K.; Hölzel, N.; Jochum, M.; Kandeler, E.; ... Wilcke, W., 2021: Above- and belowground biodiversity jointly tighten the P cycle in agricultural grasslands. Nature Communications, 12: 4431 (9 pp.). doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-24714-4

Le Provost, G.; Thiele, J.; Westphal, C.; Penone, C.; Allan, E.; Neyret, M.; Van der Plas, F.; Ayasse, M.; Bardgett, R.D.; Birkhofer, K.; Boch, S.; Gossner, M.M.; Manning, P., 2021: Contrasting responses of above- and belowground diversity to multiple components of land-use intensity. Nature Communications, 12: 3918 (13 pp.). doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-23931-1

Fristoe, T.S.; Chytrý, M.; Dawson, W.; Essl, F.; Heleno, R.; Kreft, H.; Maurel, N.; Pergl, J.; Pyšek, P.; Seebens, H.; Boch, S.; Van Kleunen, M., 2021: Dimensions of invasiveness: links between local abundance, geographic range size, and habitat breadth in Europe's alien and native floras. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PNAS, 118, 22: e2021173118 (11 pp.). doi: 10.1073/pnas.2021173118