WSL has the following mission:
In the field of sustainable spatial development, WSL is especially active in the development of mountainous regions and urban agglomerations, and focuses on the following areas: Landscape research; Forest ecology and forest management; Natural hazards and integral risk management; Snow, ice, avalanches and permafrost. As a specialist institute, WSL provides, as far as possible, the following services: Maintaining the Swiss Avalanche Warning System and keeping the public informed about avalanche danger. Running the Swiss Forest Health Division according to Art. 30 Para. 2 of the Forest Ordinance of 30 November, 1992.
Providing scientific and technical support for forest plant protection according to Art. 44 of the Plant Protection Ordinance of 28 February, 2001. The Federal Council assigns the ETH Domain a performance mandate to be renewed every four years. Some of the objectives agreed between the ETH Board and WSL are assigned to WSL. These objectives supplement and substantiate the tasks specified in the regulations.
As a research institute in the ETH Domain, WSL is required to provide world-class research and clear benefits for society and the public in Switzerland. To perform these tasks requires long-term environmental monitoring and, at the same time, the ability to react quickly and flexibly to developments in science and society. WSL is proud of its dual balancing act in finding and maintaining the right balance between, on the one hand, continuity and flexibility, and on the other, excellent research and practical applications.