Indicator forest and wood

Forest reserves

In forest reserves, biodiversity conservation and promotion have absolute priority over all other interests.

In natural forest reserves, forestry activities are not carried out so that the forest can regenerate naturally. In special forest reserves, targeted activities are carried out to promote threatened species. These include many species that require a lot of light and warmth, for example.

These protected areas are important for national priority species and forest communities and habitats. Forest areas that develop naturally also serve as reference areas for research projects on near-natural forest management or climate change.

Assessment of the state
good good
Assessment of the trend
positive positive
Special forest reserves 2019: 39326 Special forest reserves 2018: 37954 Special forest reserves 2016: 35173 Special forest reserves 2014: 30469 Special forest reserves 2012: 25470 Natural forest reserves 2019: 47901 Natural forest reserves 2018: 46199 Natural forest reserves 2016: 41815 Natural forest reserves 2014: 37385 Natural forest reserves 2012: 32565
Area of forest reserves

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: FOEN forest reserve database (cantonal data sovereignty)
Remaining forest area: 93.5% Forest reserves: 6.5%
Percentage of forest reserves out of the total forest area, 2018

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: FOEN

Under the Forest Policy 2020, at least 10% of the forest area will be included in reserves until 2030 and at least 15 large forest reserves (>500 ha) will be designated. More than half of the area target has been reached and the number of large forest reserves has already been exceeded. The regional distribution of the reserves needs to be further improved, especially as concerns the large reserves in the Central Plateau.

International comparison

The data on forest reserves are also used for international reporting and to check progress toward goals in accordance with international commitments. In 2015, the average of protected forest area for biodiversity conservation (MCPFE categories 1.1 to 1.3) in the countries studied in Europe was 14.9% of the total forest area (FOREST EUROPE, 2020). Switzerland is thus significantly below the European average. 


The cantons have strategies for establishing forest reserves (natural and special forest reserves) and are responsible for implementing them. The cantons provide the geodata with the reserve areas, which are recorded in a GIS database at the FOEN. The data are updated every 2 years at the national level.

Basis for assessment of the trend
Targeted trend Initial value Final value Variation in % Observed trend Assessment
Growth 2012 2019 (1) 47.09%, (2) 54.40% (1) Growth, (2) Growth positive
(1) Natural forest reserves, (2) Special forest reserves
Last updated on: 19.06.2023

Further information




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