Sustainable development and targeted landscape management require extensive monitoring. In collaboration with the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), we have developed indicators for the purpose of recording and observing the physical and perceived qualities of landscapes.
Switzerland has an extremely diverse landscape across a very compact area. This is a major advantage when it comes to identity, tourism, everyday recreation and the protection of biodiversity. Landscapes have a wide range of qualities and perform numerous services for human beings. Changes such as settlement and forest development alter landscapes – not only physically, but also in the way that people perceive them. To ensure targeted management and sustainable development of the landscape, its qualities must be monitored and compared on a regular basis.
The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) aims to do so through the programme "Landscape Monitoring Switzerland" (LABES). The programme measures landscape development using indicators that incorporate both the physical landscape and the perceived landscape. The indicators are surveyed periodically. We provide scientific support for this programme and develop the indicator set on an ongoing basis. The first comprehensive landscape monitoring took place in 2011, from 2018-2020 we reviewed and further developed the indicators, and in 2020/21 we assessed landscape quality for the second time.
We use various scientific methods to study the landscape in all its aspects, qualities and services. Physical aspects, such as the development of forested areas and light emissions, can be analysed using remote sensing. Sociological methods are used to study landscape perception. In 2011 and again in 2020/21, we conducted a representative survey of the Swiss population in collaboration with the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). This enables us to play our part in monitoring the qualities of Switzerland's landscapes based on a comprehensive understanding of the landscapes (as is also the aim of the European Landscape Convention).