The NFI provides an important basis for decision making in Swiss forestry and environmental policy.
31% of Switzerland is covered by forest. This forest is an important habitat for animals and plants. It provides wood, protection from natural hazards and room for recreation. For the sustainable use and protection of the forests it is necessary to provide objective information to politicians, scientists, ecologists, foresters and the timber industry, as well as to national and international organisations.
Consequently the Federal Council decided to carry out the first National Forest Inventory (NFI) in 1981. Today, the legal basis for the NFI is provided in Art. 33 of the Federal Law on Forests of 1993.
The NFI and other surveys make up a national forestry information system. It is part of the «Swiss Forest Monitoring» Program along with the Long-Term Forest Ecosystems Research LWF, the Sanasilva Inventory SSI, and the Swiss Forest Protection.
The NFI is intended to record the current state and the changes of the Swiss forest in all its functions. It should be possible to give statistically reliable results for Switzerland, larger cantons and regions.