Areas designated for biodiversity
Many habitats only arise in very small areas in Switzerland. Protected areas contribute to their conservation and are of central importance to biodiversity conservation in Switzerland. They allow species to continue to live in their original habitat, help species under pressure regain ground and enable ecosystems to fulfill their functions. In addition, they help safeguard landscape diversity in Switzerland.
Areas designated for the protection and promotion of biodiversity in Switzerland contribute to the achievement of Aichi Target 11 in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which provides for the conservation of at least 17% of terrestrial areas.
Protected areas of national, regional, cantonal and local importance currently make up 9.8% of the national territory. Two-thirds of these areas are protected areas at the federal level (6.6%) and one-third at the cantonal level (3.2%). The various tasks that must be carried out (legal safeguard, ecological enhancement) have been accomplished at varying degrees depending on the location. Other areas designated for biodiversity make up 3.6% of the national territory.
Therefore, areas designated for biodiversity make up a total of approximately 13.4% of Switzerland’s national territory. The CBD target of 17% has not yet been achieved in Switzerland, which is why the state is assessed as negative.
Although the portion of Switzerland's national territory designated for biodiversity conservation grew considerably between 2007 and 2012, it was not enough to achieve the set goal. If this trend continues at the same pace in the coming years, the 17% target will not be achieved by 2020. Therefore, the trend is unsatisfactory.
A comparable indicator is produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). According to that indicator, which considers only sites of national importance, Switzerland lags somewhat behind in terms of protected area management. The “OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Switzerland 2017" report indicates that protection goals are weaker than in other OECD countries, the protected areas are often not extensive enough, poorly connected within Switzerland and with the other European networks, and do not fully meet the safeguard objectives.
The total protected area specified excludes any overlaps that exist between areas designated as qualifying for more than one category of protection. The protected areas are prioritised on the basis of their importance in terms of the contribution they make to the conservation of biodiversity.
There are different types of protected areas in Switzerland, and each type has its own specific protection rules. The following areas are taken into account by this indicator:
- Protected areas of national importance that include the Swiss National Park, the central areas of periurban nature parks, biotopes of national importance, water fowl and migratory bird reserves of international and national importance, and federal hunting reserves.
- Areas placed under protection by an act of public authority issued by cantons or communes, such as biotopes of regional and local importance, as well as cantonal forest reserves.
- Areas of international importance, such as the Emerald Network sites (Bern Convention) and the sites governed by the Ramsar Convention.
- Areas belonging to third parties that have been identified by private organizations as “protected areas.”
- Biodiversity priority areas in agriculture (level II)
The buffer zones of biotopes of national and regional importance also contribute to biodiversity conservation.
|Targeted trend||Initial value||Final value||Deviation from theoretical path in%||Observed trend||Assessment|
|17% in 2020||2012||2017||43.97%||Towards theoretical path||unsatisfactory|