Magazine "environment" 3/2020 - A beautiful diversity
Editorial by Franziska Schwarz, Vice Director FOEN
Dossier «Landscape and its importance for quality of life»
The landscape is important in Swiss society. Switzerland has developed an ambitious landscape policy that strives to put the focus on landscape quality throughout the entire country. This policy is distinctive in that it is cross-cutting and coherent across different policy areas and political levels.
Paintings have shaped our notions of the ideal landscape. Yet landscape does much more than “just” provide us with aesthetic pleasure.
How do you determine the quality of a landscape? One way is to assess landscape elements such as forests, settlements and bodies of water. The FOEN also teams up with the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) to gauge the views of the Swiss public as part of the Swiss Landscape Monitoring Programme (LABES).
The Council of Europe’s Landscape Convention defines landscape as “an area, as perceived by people”. Both human activity and the influence of nature feed into this perception. However, the way we view the landscape has changed over time, environment discussed this issue with Renate Amstutz and Raimund Rodewald.
Nowadays, shaping landscape change in a high-quality way is part of a commune’s economic development policy. The updated Swiss Landscape Concept (SLC) now defines objectives to this end: ensuring green spaces and carefully designing settlement edges. The example of Manno (canton of Ticino) shows how the abstract requirements of the SLC can be implemented in practice.
The landscape is an asset in many ways, not least in the development of peripheral regions. But capitalising on Switzerland’s diverse landscapes also means protecting and looking after them.
Agglomerations can also contain valuable landscape and natural elements, but growing housing needs and the requirement for the consolidation of settlement areas are placing these assets under pressure. The Geneva commune of Meyrin shows that it is possible to safeguard green spaces while also connecting them to form an ecological network.
Switzerland is not immune from the global climate crisis, but restoring natural landscape dynamics can help in the fight against rising temperatures.
Photographic landscape observation is gaining ground in Switzerland, from Schlieren to the Chasseral. According to its proponents, it could also provide valuable guidance for spatial planning.