Forests provide a wide range of ecosystem services that are relevant for the people at the local, regional and global scale.

Bild mit Blick auf Domat/Ems
Roughly a third of Switzerland is covered by forest, which provides important services, such as wood, a recreational spaces or protection - about half our forests protect us against natural hazards, including avalanches, rockfalls and erosion. Furthermore, forests are important biodiversity hotspots (view of Domat/Ems, photo: Andreas Rigling, WSL).

Forests cover roughly 30% percent of the global land surface area. Forests store large quantities of carbon and are currently our planet's largest land-based (terrestrial) carbon sink. They regulate the local, regional and global climate, provide timber and fibres and are also major biodiversity hotspots. In addition, Switzerland's forests play an important role in landscape aesthetics, recreation and tourism and in protecting settlements and other infrastructure against natural hazards. On top of this, forests are one of Switzerland's few sources of renewable energy and as such could make a major contribution to so-called bioeconomies, i.e. economic systems that function without fossil fuels.

Impacts, risks and opportunities

Bild von toten Waldföhren bei Raron


High temperatures, periods of drought and insect or mistletoe infestations cause tree death, as here in a Scots pine forest in the canton of Valais near Visp. (Dead Scots pines near Raron. Photo Andreas Rigling, WSL).

Risks and opportunities

Switzerland's present-day forests are only limitedly adapted to heat and drought and exposed to an increasing risk of natural events and forest fires. This has a negative impact on its economic, social and environmental services. In comparison, the positive impacts of climate change on the forest are less significant.

Last modification 15.11.2021

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Priority themes: Forest functions and climate change

Climate change affects the forest functions, forest health, the distribution of tree species and the forest as carbon sink. Recommendations for adapted forest management are being developed.