Diversity of land use on agricultural land
Almost a quarter of the area of Switzerland is used as farmland. Changes within the agricultural area are therefore of major importance and find direct expression in the scenic qualities of the landscape: the more diverse the agricultural area and the more small-scale it is structured, the more varied the scenery. Moreover, diverse land use has a positive impact on species diversity.
Between 2003 and 2007, the average number of different types of land use on agricultural land decreased from 16.2 to 15.4. Between 2009 and 2013, the diversity of use increased from 17 to 17.3. The absolute levels of both time series (2003-2007 or 2009-2013) cannot be compared with each other, BUT rather the trend within the two time series (commune mergers, see comment in the method). The trend appears to be moving in a positive direction. The diversity of agricultural land use is increasing, which is reflected in the successful establishment of niche products on the agricultural market and the promotion of various agricultural products. This corresponds to a percentage increase of around 5%. It is positive for the landscape and species diversity.
Land-use diversity is strongly correlated with altitude: in municipalities at high altitudes in the Alpine region many land uses are simply not possible due to climatic reasons (low average temperature, short growing season). The lower the municipality's altitude, the greater its land-use diversity on farmland. Therefore the highest diversity of agricultural land-use types can generally be found in the Central Plateau region
In LUCAS (Land Use and Cover Area Frame Survey), a similar index is calculated, i.e. the "Land cover richness indicator". In addition, data from CORINE statistics are used. Austria ranks very high compared to the EU average, which would probably be the case for Switzerland.
This indicator records the average number of different types of land use on the agricultural lands of Switzerland. The collection of data for this indicator is based on the farm structure survey conducted by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO) in cooperation with the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) and the cantonal agricultural offices. This census surveys all farm holdings in Switzerland which meet one of the following conditions:
- a minimum of 1 ha utilized agricultural area
- a minimum of 0.3 ha utilized agricultural area in the case of specialty crops
- a minimum of 0.1 ha utilized agricultural area in the case of covered cropping
As a result, the survey includes at least 99% of all full-time and part-time agricultural enterprises. The farm structure survey distinguished 74 crop categories. A number of these serve statistical purposes and are deducted, others are combined categories, leaving 67 crop categories to be used to assess land-use diversity. Of these 67 land-use classes, 64 could be used for the assessment.
The indicator is based on the area of the commune. As a result, it is influenced by commune mergers. Only the conditions in 2003, 2005 and 2007 and 2009, 2011, and 2013 can be compared with each other, but not the values between the two groups.