Dobbertin M, Hug C, Walthert L (2012) Waldzustand in der Schweiz: Erfassung, Entwicklung und Einflussfaktoren. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Forstwesen, 163 (9): 331-342. [10.3188/szf.2012.0331]



In the early 1980s it was feared that air pollution would cause a widespread forest decline and a reduction in forest productivity. In Switzerland as in most European countries crown defoliation and foliage discoloration were selected as the most important indicators of forest condition. The Sanasilva inventory on a systematic network of plots showed an increase in the proportion of trees with high defoliation until 1995. Since then no trend has been detected. However, large annual fluctuations were often observed following years with large-scale climatic events, such as the storms Vivian and Lothar and the heat summer of 2003. Although highly variable, neither mortality nor removal rates have shown any time trend since 1985. The annual differences in crown defoliation, mortality and tree growth are mainly related to climatic factors. In addition to the climatic conditions, nutrient availability, soil water holding capacity and to a lesser extent air pollution determine the degree of crown defoliation at a given site and for a given species. Although several studies have found a negative effect of nitrogen deposition or ozone concentrations on tree foliation, others have shown that up to now nitrogen deposition has increased tree growth on nitrogen-limited sites. It can thus be concluded that presently air pollution does not pose a direct threat to tree conditions in Switzerland. However, the assessment of crown condition alone is not a suitable tool to detect the effects of air pollution on forests. This requires more detailed measurements on long-term research sites. However, as crown condition is strongly affected by site conditions and climate, it should be further monitored, particularly with regard to the predicted climate change.

LWF Classification

Network: LWF;sanasilva, Sites: Alptal;Beatenberg;Bettlachstock;Celerina;Chironico;Davos;Isone;Jussy;Lantsch;Lausanne;Lens;Nationalpark;Neunkirch;Novaggio;Othmarsingen;Schänis;Visp;Vordemwald, Category: peer-reviewed,