Forest Resources and Management
The Research Unit Forest Resources and Management is active in four main fields: (i) long-term monitoring, analysis, assessment and prognosis of forest resources; (ii) silvicultural interventions to ensure the provision of forest products and services; (iii) optimal utilisation of forest resources in relation to a range of ecosystem services; and (iv) development of related concepts, experiments, methods and models. A major ongoing responsibility is the co-ordination and realisation of the Swiss National Forest Inventory LFI which it conducts for and in partnership with the Federal office of the Environment.
The Forest Resources and Management research unit is involved in the monitoring, analysis, and assessment of forest resources, especially timber and carbon sequestration. Its research also focuses on silvicultural interventions, which enhance and optimise forest resources, thus developing and improving modelling and research methodologies. A major ongoing responsibility is the co-ordination and realisation of the Swiss National Forest Inventory (LFI), which it conducts for, and in partnership with, the Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN) see here.
The principal research group focused on metrics, data and
interpretation of Switzerland’s forests, and is therefore closely at the
forefront of the WSL’s ongoing National Forest Inventory work. This includes
analyses of levels of “growing
stock, increment, cut and mortality of wood as well as derived variables such
as biomass, ‘dead wood and carbon’ and forest scenario modelling related to
carbon change, and other future variables.
DivScaling – the scaling of diversity in Swiss forests – the main goal of this project is to develop a much more detailed understanding of the diversity of different Swiss forests, using sample areas as a key variable, along with other factors, primarily through the application of the mathematical instrument of Diversity-area curves. The research is running from 2020 to 2022.
Ecosystem services in forests (SessFor) a study of the future development of forest services over the next half to full century, embedded in a spectrum of future forest and climate scenarios.
Swiss Biomass The aim of this project is to determine the biomass of individual trees
more precisely using non-destructive measurement methods. Such biomass
estimates are central for the greenhouse gas inventory, Kyoto reporting and for
the estimation of wood resources and bioenergy potentials.
N-DEPEND – ‘Nitrogen Deposition Penalty’ for Forests under Drought? This project intends to
test the “N-penalty” hypothesis for the Swiss forests. By statistical
modeling and quasi-experimental analyses based on N deposition estimates,
drought indices and NFI data, we assess interacting effects of N deposition and
drought on forest health and productivity.
Redevelopment of the single tree growth model Massimo Massimo is a distance
independent single tree growth model based on the Swiss National Forest
Inventory network. The modules for growth, mortality, disturbance and
management are based on empirical models fitted with data from the LFI.
Wood harvesting potentials and climate protection services in the Swiss
forest Simulations with the
forest growth model Massimo make it possible to estimate future wood harvesting
potentials and, based on this, to derive climate protection services of the
Swiss forestry and timber industry.
For all research projects see here and scroll down.
The GIS group is engaged in the application of
Geographical Information Services in the context of a broad panoply of spatial
and temporal data relevant and related to the forests. It includes a number of
sub-groups, including the Virtual Data Centre and the Data Center for Nature
and Landscape, as well as being responsible for maintaining the National Forest
High-resolution soil maps for the Swiss forest – project that adresses a shortfall in soil mapping of the country’s forest areas, aiming to model a comprehensive set of soil maps for the entire Swiss forest area. Soil properties such as pH or soil textures (e.g. sand content) are spatially predicted using a digital soil mapping approach.
GIS research into high resolution soil mapping– Render SOMA-CH/WSL
MoGLI – modelling woody species in NFI
– the MoGLI research project objective is to model the spatial
distribution of the most common woody species across the Swissforests.
Based on occurrence data from the National Forest Inventory statistical
relationships to environmental factors are derived using machine
learning algorithms to predict the distribution of tree species. The
results of MoGLI are to be used for both theoretical and applied
purposes. For all research projects see here and scroll down.
Stand Dynamics and Silviculture
As its title
implies, the focus of the research group is stand dynamics and their external influences.
Growth and yield research, demographic
dynamics in forest reserves, regeneration dynamics and forest trees’ adaptation to climate change. The group maintains many long-term permanent forest
plots in managed and unmanaged forests.
Impacts of ungulate browsing on tree regeneration in Swiss forests – in this project, the temporal development of the influence of wild ungulate species on tree regeneration in Swiss forests is estimated using data from the Swiss National Forest Inventory NFI and density estimates of roe deer, chamois and red deer.
Forest growth and yield research – in over 160 permanent plots in all forest types are followed over time, and the influence of disturbances and silvicultural interventions on forest growth and regeneration is studied. The oldest plots date back to 1887 and give unique insight in long-term forest succession.
For a full list of research see here and scroll down, and for publications see here.
Sustainable forestry here refers to a
research agenda focused on the provision of forest ecosystem services as well
as an efficient use of biomass as a natural resource. This includes investigating
biomass potentials in the context of circular economy and developing
appropriate approaches for optimising the long-term management of forests to
support a sustainable forestry under the environmental and economic challenges
of climate change. Big data is used to provide scientific decision support in
complex planning situations considering uncertainty related to extreme events.
Impacts of climate change induced extreme windthrow events on forest management and economy of European forest enterprises (ExWiFE)
– exploration of the complexity of extreme windthrow and related
disturbances and its relation to the provision of forest ecosystem
services which aims to encompass the linkages of a broad span of
influences, including local and the international dimensions
(2020-2021).Timber harvest and nutrient sustainability in beech stands
– aims to determine the nutrient balance of various Swiss forest sites
by means of comprehensive soil analyses and to use this to draw up
nutrient balances with a view to maintaining and promoting soil
fertility and biodiversity. This should provide a better understanding
of the interrelated processes and mechanisms in forest soils and provide
insights into the effects of different intensities of timber harvesting
on the long-term nutrient balance of a forest site.
New basics for the forest management planning of staged
forests – based
on forest roads, forest structures and ecosystem services
to be provided, this project will develop new basics for the separation of
management and operation units as a planning basis for mountain and permanent
Optimised forest planning – sustainable and multifunctional forest planning is a complex and demanding task and requires appropriate decision support systems. Here, an optimization model is developed to determine the optimal segregation of management strategies that can best fulfill targeted forest ecosystem services and forest biodiversity (2019-2021).
For all research projects see here and scroll down and for news and information here.
Scientific Service NFI –the Forest Resources and Management unit is
strongly involved in the NFI from its planning phase to the implementation in
the field and the dissemination of results. Alongside the l once in a decade
national and also international reports, the NFI’s work encompasses multiple
tasks ranging from data cataloguing, equipment evaluation, and quality control
oversight, to identifying sustainable forest indicators, developing
web-interfaces The unit work is informed by current research, maintaining
ongoing exchange with science and practice at local, national and international
Cost, energy requirement and CO2 balance of the major paths travelled by forest wood and manure for energy – research into the major paths of biomass transportation chains. Given the amount of biomass inclusion in the country’s energy strategy, understanding the carbon cost of transport assists in the aim of optimising the biomass element in the energy strategy (2019 – 2020).
Bioenergy and circular economy: the biogas plant as a hub (link in German) – focused on the biomass element in anaerobic biogas energy production, providing more informed qualitative and quantitative data on wet biomass’s footprint so as to fine tune and advance overall carbon performance (2020 – 2022).
For all research projects see here and scroll down, and see here for news and information.