Forest functions and climate change

Practice- and policy-relevant robust scientific information on potential effects of increasing temperature and changing precipitation regimes on forest ecosystems is a prerequisite for modern, sustainable forest management. The NCCS priority theme “Forest functions and climate change” aims for the integration and synthesis of existing forest and climate information and the development of innovative new tools supporting communication and outreach for societal, economic and political decision making.

Forests provide a variety of ecosystem services, ranging from wood production, provision of clean drinking water, regulation of the local climate, preservation of biodiversity, habitat for animals and plants to protection against natural hazards and the provision of recreational areas. Forests intensively store carbon and thus represent the largest terrestrial CO2 sink.

Climate change is occurring at a pace that mostly prevents evolutionary adaptation of trees and will thus have strong impact on the vitality, the function and the services of forests and on the habitat suitability of native tree species. Drought and high temperatures can jeopardize ecosystem services, for example by reducing tree growth and increasing mortality with impacts on carbon sequestration.

Explore Swiss Forests

With the web-based tools below, stakeholders can understand how temperature, precipitation and extreme climatic events will affect near-term and long-term risks for forests and ecosystem services under different climate scenarios.

Current forest condition

Visualise the current condition of Swiss forests with the FORTE app. Near real-time to annual tree stress indicators are available at various spatial scales. Filter data by tree species or by area through an intuitive user interface to assess heat and drought induced stress and the consequences for forest health.

Future forest projections

Visualise long-term projections of Swiss forests with the FORTE Future app. Future distributions of habitat suitability and genetic mal-adaptation for various tree species are available. Users can assess the local and habitat specific risk as a basis for informed decision-making in forestry.

Last modification 15.12.2021

Top of page


Swiss Federal Institute WSL

Contact person
Prof. Dr. Arthur Gessler


Print contact

Key messages

Forests perform many functions and provide services ranging from wood production, climate regulation, protection from natural hazards to providing habitat and recreational space. Changes in climate conditions can harm trees and forests, and affect crucial forests functions and services.