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Integrative nature protection in forests and maintenance of various forest functions – Swiss Country Report



Fears of a widespread forest decline that were prevalent in the 1980s have mostly disappeared in Switzerland today. There is good reason to be optimistic about the state of nature protection in Swiss forests. Over a century of strict preservation of forest area and close to nature forestry have contributed to their high ecological value. But some problems have remained and future challenges have recently appeared on the horizon. The report describes the current system of formal and informal rules as well as instruments surrounding nature protection in Swiss forests. Is this system prepared for future challenges and how probable are reforms to it in the future? To arrive at answers to this question, a preliminary description of the current state seems necessary first. The report thus describes the various formal instruments and informal rules that have an effect on nature conservation in Swiss forests, identifies the challenges and tries to answer the question, to what extent the current integration of nature protection and forest management is prepared to deal with these challenges and whether additional reforms can be expected.


The report is based on an extensive literature review of journal articles as well as government reports, strategies and legal texts. To complement this approach, exploratory interviews with experts in the field, representing different stakeholder groups, were also conducted.

Trying to paint the broad picture around nature protection Swiss forests, the report proceeds as follows. First, a description of forest and nature conservation in Switzerland is given, including the historical development of forest composition and silvicultural practices as well as key forest and biodiversity facts. Second, the different forest functions of Swiss forests are identified and crucially, conflicts as well as synergies between them are outlined. Third, the legal framework for forest management in Swiss forests, stretching across a wide range of legal areas, is presented. Fourth, financial instruments, which have been recently redesigned, are examined. Fifth, informational instruments, certification, monitoring and planning tools complete the picture. In a final step, an assessment of the depicted situation is carried out, outlining key exogenous factors, challenges and chances for nature protection in Switzerland.

The report chooses a broad perspective in order to provide an overview and particularly to identify the need for further research and immediate action. It is thus not possible to provide an in-depth analysis of specific aspects of the integration of nature protection policy and forest policy.

Project Frame

The report also serves as the Swiss country report for the EFICENT project INTEGRATE, which analyses nature protection instruments in multifunctional forests across various countries.


Angst, M., 2012: Integration of Nature Protection in Swiss Forest Policy. INTEGRATE Country Report for Switzerland. Country report within the framework of the research project INTEGRATE (Integration of nature protection in forest management and its relation to other functions/services) of the Central European Office of the European Forest Institute (EFICENT), Freiburg i.B. Birmensdorf, Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape, WSL. 76 S.

Project Team

  • Tobias Schulz (Project Lead)
  • Mario Angst