SCNAT and its network are committed to a sustainable science and society. They support policy-making, administration and business with expert knowledge and actively participate in public discourse. They strengthen the exchange across scientific disciplines and promote early career academics.

Image: Sebastian,

The Confederation supports SwissCollNet and its digital platform of natural science collections for research

The federal government is promoting an improved access to natural science collections with a total amount of CHF 12.37 million until 2024. The digitised collections provide unique data for climate, biodiversity or agricultural research, for example. To this end, the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) has launched the Swiss Natural History Collections Network, SwissCollNet, to collaborate with museums, universities, and botanical gardens in laying the foundations for the digitisation and long-term management and use of the collections.

Imaging station at the ETHZ-ENT in Zürich
Image: ETHZ-BIB/Pierre Kellenberger

With a treasure of more than 60 million specimens of animals, plants, fungi, stones, soil samples and fossils, Switzerland’s museums, universities, and botanical gardens store remarkably extensive collections, as pointed out by a 2019 SCNAT report. Nevertheless, only 17 percent of these objects are digitised. This means that a large part of the collections, containing unique data on the state of the environment, is hardly accessible for research.

The Confederation has now recognised the great need for action. With this funding support, SwissCollNet can now lay the foundations for the establishment and maintenance of a perennial digital platform for research on Switzerland’s biological and geological collections. A particular attention will be paid to the coordination with similar initiatives which are currently underway in many other countries, especially in Europe.

“With its financial support to launch the project, the Confederation is ensuring that Switzerland does not miss the boat. In the coming years, digital research platforms will emerge from the natural science collections and connect globally. This large pool of data will help us to better deal with pests, environmental toxins or the climate and biodiversity crisis” says biologist Christoph Scheidegger, President of SwissCollNet.

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Nationale Bedeutung naturwissenschaftlicher Sammlungen der Schweiz

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Landwirtschaft, Umweltschutz, Verkehrsinfrastrukturen – viele Erkenntnisse stützen auf Wissen aus naturwissenschaftlichen Sammlungen. In der Schweiz lagern über 60 Millionen Objekte verteilt in allen Kantonen. Sie sind für die moderne Forschung

National significance of Natural History Collections in Switzerland

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Biological and geoscience collections form an important part of our rich scientific heritage and provide the basis for much of what we know today about our planet and how we

Image: Akademien Schweiz


  • Research infrastructure


Prof. Dr. Christoph Scheidegger
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL)
Zürcherstrasse 111
8903 Birmensdorf