Thematic Synthesis TS2: Soil and environment


The thematic synthesis presents an overview of the regulating soil functions and their vulnerability to soil use and environmental change. The focus is on soil organic matter, greenhouse gas emissions from the soil and soil compaction.

Background (completed research project)

Soils have important functions. They are the basis for production in agriculture and forestry, they are the habitat for soil organisms and they regulate the water and nutrient balance. They also contribute to regulating the global climate by acting as both a sink for and source of greenhouse gases. Soils functions are potentially jeopardised by changes in soil use and climate.


The thematic synthesis highlights the significance of soils to Switzerland’s greenhouse gas balance and proposes ways of physically protecting. Results from various projects undertaken as part of NRP 68 – especially those concerning the carbon balance of soils – are brought together and findings from outside NRP 68 is also incorporated. An overview of the regulating functions of soils in Switzerland is presented and their vulnerability to soil use and environmental change.


The thematic synthesis “Soil and Environment” will help to improve Switzerland's greenhouse gas balance and provide input for the development of directives to protect soil function.


The thematic synthesis discusses how climate change and land use affect the soil and its functions, and vice versa, what role soil plays in climate change and land use and what measures can be taken to protect the soil functions.

Project lead

  • Dr Frank Hagedorn, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
  • Dr Andreas Gattinger, FiBL – Forschungsinstitution für biologischen Landbau, Frick
  • Dr Andreas Schellenberger, Bundesamt für Umwelt BAFU



Further information on this content



Dr Frank Hagedorn Eidgenössische Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft WSL Zürcherstrasse 111 8903 Birmensdorf +41 44 739 21 11