The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL

An abrupt end

Making room for offspring

At a ripe old age, the larch threatened to fall and injure people. Moreover, trees in a protection forest need to be healthy. Consequently, in September 1987, the larch was felled.

The now ancient larch grew more and more slanted. At its location, just 50 meters below a pasture hut, it posed a risk to humans. In addition, it stood in the protection forest above the village of Blitzingen.

In Switzerland, protection forests are intended to sustainably protect settlements, roads and railway lines against avalanches, rockfalls and debris flows. They are therefore taken care of especially, in particular, to promote regeneration. Old trees are selectively removed to create space and light for a new generation of trees.

The larch formed its last complete ring in 1987 and was felled in September of that year. In May 1988, it was hauled out of the forest using a cable crane. As is often the case with old larches, the lower part of its trunk was rotten.

The district forester removed this disc at a height of approx. 6 metres and donated it to the WSL.

As a contemporary witness to the founding of the Old Swiss Confederation in 1291, the disc was part of the national research exhibition Heureka in Zurich in 1991.

Maps in time lapse from 1864 to today: makes time travel in the Valais Goms possible. (Data: © swisstopo, Realisation: WSL)