Indicator biodiversity

Red lists

Because their habitats are being destroyed, severely altered, polluted, separated from each other or disturbed, many of Switzerland’s animal, plant, lichen and fungus species only arise in small populations comprising a few individuals. Small species populations have a greater risk of extinction.

As expert scientific reports, the Red Lists with their staged endangerment categories identify the extent to which previous efforts for the conservation of species diversity have succeeded, and the species and natural habitats for which special protection and promotion measures are required.

Assessment of the state
poor poor
Assessment of the trend
unsatisfactory unsatisfactory
Not Threatened Total: 54 Near Threatened Total: 10 Endangered Total: 33 Extinct in Switzerland Total: 3 Not Threatened Lichen and fungi: 60 Near Threatened Lichen and fungi: 7 Endangered Lichen and fungi: 32 Extinct in Switzerland Lichen and fungi: 1 Not Threatened Plants: 56 Near Threatened Plants: 16 Endangered Plants: 26 Extinct in Switzerland Plants: 2 Not Threatened Animals: 46 Near Threatened Animals: 13 Endangered Animals: 36 Extinct in Switzerland Animals: 5
Reference : Evaluated native species (n=10,711 species)

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: Federal Office for the Environment
Data deficient TOTAL: 1 Least concern TOTAL: 39 Near threatened TOTAL: 13 Vulnerable TOTAL: 28 Endangered TOTAL: 13 Critically endangered TOTAL: 7 Least concern Grass borders and shrubs: 64 Near threatened Grass borders and shrubs: 24 Vulnerable Grass borders and shrubs: 8 Endangered Grass borders and shrubs: 4 Data deficient Rocky meadows and cliffs: 6 Least concern Rocky meadows and cliffs: 63 Near threatened Rocky meadows and cliffs: 6 Vulnerable Rocky meadows and cliffs: 25 Least concern Forests: 59 Near threatened Forests: 3 Vulnerable Forests: 21 Endangered Forests: 12 Critically endangered Forests: 6 Least concern Grassland: 37 Near threatened Grassland: 20 Vulnerable Grassland: 37 Endangered Grassland: 3 Critically endangered Grassland: 3 Least concern Crop companion plants: 38 Near threatened Crop companion plants: 8 Vulnerable Crop companion plants: 23 Endangered Crop companion plants: 15 Critically endangered Crop companion plants: 15 Least concern Watercourses: 9 Near threatened Watercourses: 36 Vulnerable Watercourses: 9 Endangered Watercourses: 9 Critically endangered Watercourses: 36 Least concern Ruderal pioneer vegetation: 20 Near threatened Ruderal pioneer vegetation: 10 Vulnerable Ruderal pioneer vegetation: 40 Endangered Ruderal pioneer vegetation: 30 Near threatened Shores and wetlands: 10 Vulnerable Shores and wetlands: 45 Endangered Shores and wetlands: 35 Critically endangered Shores and wetlands: 10 Vulnerable Stagnant bodies of water: 63 Endangered Stagnant bodies of water: 38
Proportions of Red List categories for all habitats (TOTAL) and by group of habitats

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: Delarze et al. 2016 commissioned by the FOEN
Vascular plants  2016: 0.82 Vascular plants  2015: 0.820714285714286 Vascular plants  2014: 0.821428571428572 Vascular plants  2013: 0.822142857142857 Vascular plants  2012: 0.822857142857143 Vascular plants  2011: 0.823571428571429 Vascular plants  2010: 0.824285714285714 Vascular plants  2009: 0.825 Vascular plants  2008: 0.825714285714286 Vascular plants  2007: 0.826428571428572 Vascular plants  2006: 0.827142857142857 Vascular plants  2005: 0.827857142857143 Vascular plants  2004: 0.828571428571429 Vascular plants  2003: 0.829285714285714 Breeding birds 2010: 0.75 Breeding birds 2009: 0.751111111111111 Breeding birds 2008: 0.752222222222222 Breeding birds 2007: 0.753333333333333 Breeding birds 2006: 0.754444444444444 Breeding birds 2005: 0.755555555555556 Breeding birds 2004: 0.756666666666667 Breeding birds 2003: 0.757777777777778 Breeding birds 2002: 0.758888888888889 Breeding birds 2001: 0.76
Interpretation of Red List Index (RLI): 0 signifies that all the species of the group examined are extinct; 1 indicates that no species in the group is endangered.

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: BAFU

To date, one quarter of the around 46,000 known species has been assessed for the Red Lists. 36% of these species are threatened or extinct (see Chart "Species"). This percentage is significantly higher than the average in OECD countries.  Every fortieth species that was once native to Switzerland is already extinct in this country.

Of the 167 Swiss habitat types, 48% (79 natural and semi-natural habitats) are included in the Red List of natural habitats. Aquatic ecosystems, mires and bogs and agroecosystems are the most threatened (see "Natural habitats").

The high proportion of endangered species and natural habitats provides evidence of the ongoing pressure on species diversity. Therefore, the state is assessed as negative.

The development can be observed only for species groups whose Red List has been revised. This is the case of vascular plants and breeding birds (see Chart "Evolution"). In both cases, the threat level has not changed very much, and has even decreased slightly. In 2016, the RLI (Red List Index) for vascular plants revealed that 82% of vascular plant species are unlikely to become extinct in the near future. This figure was 83% in 2002. The threat status of vascular plants in Switzerland has therefore changed little, and has even fallen slightly. The development is similar for breeding birds, with a higher threat level. The trend is therefore assessed as unsatisfactory.

This evolution is mainly due to the loss and deterioration of habitats (changes in farming practices and their intensity, loss of copses and hedges, forest margins and other small structures, disturbances in the water balance, chemical and physical pollution, the abandonment of farming, destruction of the vegetation cover).

International comparison

The endangerment categories and criteria defined in accordance with the guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have been applied for each of the Swiss National Red Lists compiled since 2000.


Red Lists have existed in Switzerland for over 30 years. The classification of species in endangerment categories is based on criteria determining the likelihood of extinction. For example, the smaller and more fragmented an area populated by a particular species and the more rapidly the population declines, the higher its risk of extinction.

Because national field campaigns lasting several years are required for these assessments, the endangerment status of species can only be updated at relatively long intervals (10 to 20 years depending on the species groups).  To evaluate the development of the threat level, two Red Lists evaluated on the basis of the same criteria are needed. The Red List Index (RLI) compiled by the UICN summarises all changes that occur when a Red List is revised. The UICN’s Red List Index is calculated based on the method published in Butchart et al. 2007, Bubb et al. 2009.

Basis for assessment of the trend
Targeted trend Initial value Final value Variation in % Observed trend Assessment
Growth (1) 2001, (2) 2002 (1) 2010, (2) 2016 (1) -1.32%, (2) -1.20% (1) Stabilisation, (2) Stabilisation unsatisfactory
(1) Breeding birds, (2) Vascular plants
Last updated on: 20.08.2019

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