The Swiss National Forest Inventory NFI

In Switzerland, 31% of the land is covered by forest. The Swiss forest serves as habitat for countless animal and plant species. It also provides wood, offers protection against natural hazards, and functions as a recreational space. If the Swiss forest is to be protected and used sustainably, objective information is needed on its current condition and changes related to all its functions.

The mission of the NFI is to record such objective information at the national level for political, social, economic and research purposes. Data collection within the NFI is mainly based on a systematic sample inventory, which is designed to provide results for Switzerland as a whole and for larger regions and individual cantons.

The NFI publishes, among other, findings on forest area, number of stems, growing stock, increment, fellings, biodiversity, protection forest quality, and socio-cultural services of the forest. It also provides data for international climate and forest reporting (e.g. greenhouse gas inventory, State of Europe’s Forests, Global Forest Resources Assessment).

Currently, the fifth inventory is underway (NFI5: 2018–2026). The previous inventories took place in the following years: 1983–1985 (NFI1), 1993–1995 (NFI2), 2004–2006 (NFI3), and 2009–2017 (NFI4).

The NFI is run by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) in collaboration with the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). WSL is responsible for research and development, planning, data collection, analysis and scientific interpretation, while FOEN is responsible for political interpretation.

The legal basis for the NFI is found in Articles 33 and 34 of the Federal Act on Forests (SR 921.0) and in Article 37a of the Ordinance on Forests (SR 921.01). According to the Ordinance on Geoinformation (SR 510.620), the NFI is part of the primary geodata of the federal government, with the results reports (ID 164) being publicly accessible and data upon which reports are based (ID 163) being accessible to the public on a restricted basis.

The NFI is a supporting pillar in «Waldbeobachtung Schweiz» (Swiss Forest Monitoring), a programme operated by FOEN, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) and WSL.