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Andreas Rigling leaves the WSL Directorate

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Andreas Rigling had been a member of the WSL Directorate since 2009, during which he did excellent work thanks to his integrationist manner, his immense knowledge of all aspects of the forest and his extensive network in science and forest practice. Because he is leaving WSL, he is also stepping down from the Directorate.


After almost thirty years at WSL, half of which he acted as Head of the Forest Dynamics Research Unit and the last 13 years as a member of the Directorate, Andreas Rigling has decided to leave WSL at the end of August 2022 and transfer to ETH Zurich. The forest ecologist conducts research on the resilience and resistance of forest ecosystems to climate change, on chronic biotic and abiotic stressors and natural disturbances, and on their effects on forest management. Rigling is considered one of the pioneers of climate change impact research in forests and his work on the direct and indirect effects of drought on tree growth and the consequences for forest management is more relevant than ever.

His broad, interdisciplinary expertise, but also his ability to bridge the gap between research and application, distinguished his work in the directorate. WSL Director Beate Jessel emphasises: "Andreas Rigling has not only promoted the implementation of research results in practice, but has integrated the knowledge of stakeholders into research concepts. In this way, he has significantly advanced the social relevance of WSL."

Rigling himself also underlines the importance of science-based communication to experts in practice, administration and politics as well as to the general public. He was not only the author of countless scientific articles, but also of fact sheets and many publications for practitioners. More recently, he also co-edited the book "How to balance forestry and biodiversity conservation. A view across Europe", which is of great importance for integrative forest management throughout Europe. He has also worked with artists to communicate science to a wide range of audiences. He was probably the only WSL staff member to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

In the Directorate, Rigling has not only dealt with the topic of forests, but also with all the other core topics of WSL (biodiversity, landscape, natural hazards and snow and ice). He contributed actively to the preparation of three development plans, to organisational and structural consolidations, to exchanges with the ETH Board and to the evaluation of countless project and job applications. He has worked with and supported two directors as well as one female director. Especially when these had a thematically different background, Rigling often and confidently represented them in forest-related bodies such as NFZ.forestnet, a European network for research and higher education in the field of forests and forest science.

In addition to the content-related aspects, Rigling was always very keen to promote cooperation between the WSL sites and the various research groups and disciplines. He was always committed to a constructive, open and stimulating working culture at WSL, which in his view set WSL apart from other comparable institutions - something he said should be preserved. "Andreas Rigling has represented WSL excellently to the outside world and the Directorate internally," says Director Jessel. "I am very grateful to him for that. It is a great loss that he is leaving WSL and with it the Directorate. But of course we wish him all the best for his new position at ETH Zurich - and we look forward to working together under new circumstances!"