Insurance value of forest ecosystems


The forest protects the population and transport infrastructure in mountain regions from natural hazards such as avalanches, landslides and rock falls. At the same time, the forest itself is exposed to hazards, such as storms and fires. Can hazard prevention be improved through sustainable forest management and an innovative insurance model?

​Project description (ongoing research project)

We will analyse the capacity of forest ecosystems to provide natural insurance services. The results will help expand the awareness, acceptance and a common understanding of these ecosystem services. Within the framework of case studies, we want to illustrate the potential and value of these services in an exemplary way. We will define the preferences of forest and building owners, investigate the various institutional frameworks and identify success factors. The information thus acquired will then be used to develop an operational business model that can be used in practice for sustainable insurance against natural hazards.


Forest ecosystems provide the population with services free of charge, such as protection against natural hazards. If the protective service is improved through forest management and this contributes towards hazard prevention, then forest owners render, so to speak, a natural insurance service to endangered house owners. As this service is usually not paid for, this can result in an undersupply. This means that the forest is less well cared for and the population receives less protection than is actually possible.


In order to assess the unpaid protection services provided by forest ecosystems, we will determine the natural potential and financial value of the insurance service as accurately as possible. This information will then be incorporated into an insurance model in which the preferences of forest owners as providers and homeowners as consumers of the service can be compared. Based on case studies we will check whether the model can be applied in practice, which frameworks are needed and how this can improve the efficiency and sustainability of hazard prevention.


The project expands the scientific bases for insurance services of forests and defines their value from the population’s perspective. In this way we can enhance the awareness of human dependence on natural resources and foster their inclusion in political, economic and individual decision-making.

Original title

Determining the Insurance Value of Ecosystems (DIVES)

Project leaders

Project leaders ​

  • Prof. Dr. Roland Olschewski, Eidg. Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft WSL
  • Prof. Dr. Marc Hanewinkel, Professur für Forstökonomie und Forstplanung, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Deutschland
  • Dr. Perry Bartelt, WSL-Institut für Schnee- und Lawinenforschung SLF
  • Prof. Dr. Rasoul Yousefpour, Professur für Forstökonomie und Forstplanung, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg,​ Deutschland

Project partners​

  • Aller Risk Management
  • Bundesamt für Umwelt BAFU
  • econcept
  • Gebäudeversicherung Graubünden
  • Kleinn Risk Management
  • Schweizer Hagel



Further information on this content



Prof. Dr. Roland Olschewski Eidg. Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft WSL Zürcherstr. 111 8903 Birmensdorf +41 44 739 25 62

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