Standing volume is the material capital of the forest. It is the result of natural factors and human activities. In this sense, it is not a parameter in itself (which means that the indicator cannot be assessed), but probably an important indicator for considerations such as stored carbon. The local and temporary reduction of standing volume may be useful to conserve forest stability and for silvicultural and ecological reasons.
Overall, the standing volume has remained stable over the last few decades. A steady increase has been observed in the Alps, the Southern Alps and the Jura, especially wherever terrestrial conditions make wood harvesting more difficult. In contrast, according to the NFI13 (2004/06) and NFI4 (2009/15), the standing volume in the Central Plateau has decreased because the forest has been harvested to a greater extent and damaged by storms and bark beetle infestation.
Although a national target cannot be set for the standing volume, the indicator provides an important measurement of the forest. Nevertheless, target standing volumes can be set locally based on local conditions as well as forest management goals and measures.
At around 350 m3 per hectare, Switzerland’s forest has the largest standing volume of European countries (» FOREST EUROPE 2015); wood harvesting is associated with high costs particularly in regions of the Alps and Southern Alps that are difficult to access.
The data on standing volume are provided by aerial images, the continuous sample survey carried out in forests and subsequent modelling.