Indicator landscape

Fragmentation of landscapes

The expansion of settlements and infrastructures drives urban sprawl, as well as landscape fragmentation, which in turn fragments the habitats of animals, plants and other organisms. Landscape fragmentation is therefore one of the leading causes of declining biodiversity. Fragmentation also changes the character of landscapes and lowers their quality.

Assessment of the state
poor poor
Assessment of the trend
negative negative
2020 Southern Alps: 449.2 2020 Central Alps: 231.6 2020 Northern Alps: 332.7 2020 Central Plateau: 2.7 2020 Jura: 17.5 2020 Switzerland: 229 2014 Southern Alps: 450.9 2014 Central Alps: 235.8 2014 Northern Alps: 348.9 2014 Central Plateau: 2.8 2014 Jura: 18.4 2014 Switzerland: 247.5
Effective mesh size in km2. The larger the mesh size, the lower the degree of landscape fragmentation.

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: Swisstopo

Landscape fragmentation is increasing across all regions. Effective mesh size in Switzerland as a whole has decreased from 248km2 in 2014 to 229km2 in 2020, or 1.2% annually. The degree of landscape fragmentation is greatest in the Central Plateau. In the Alps, the degree of landscape fragmentation is significantly lower. Increased fragmentation is driven by increasing settlement areas and related access roads, as well as the construction of new transport infrastructures.

International comparison

Landscape Fragmentation in Europe, an EEA–FOEN joint report (no 2/2011), provides calculations and rankings for many European countries with respect to landscape fragmentation.


Effective mesh size is a metric used to calculate the extent of landscape fragmentation. It expresses the probability that two randomly selected points are connected without the need to cross settlement areas. Settlement areas include transport routes that are more than three metres wide. The calculations do not include areas higher than 2,100 metres above sea level or lakes. Effective mesh size is measured in square kilometres (km2). The larger the mesh size, the lower the degree of landscape fragmentation.

Basis for assessment of the trend
Targeted trend Initial value Final value Variation in % Observed trend Assessment
Stabilisation 2014 2020 (1) -7.47  (1) Decrease negative
(1) Switzerland
Last updated on: 06.02.2023

Further information




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