The swiss parks
Since 1 December 2007 the legal basis for the creation of Parks of National Importance in Switzerland has been in place. Since then, 16 parks have been set up and four more are in the development phase.
Parks of National Importance are divided into three categories: National parks, Regional nature parks and Nature discovery parks. These three park types have different organisational structures and pursue different goals.
The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) awards the park label for a period of ten years to parks that fulfil all federal requirements. Products and services from these parks which meet particular requirements can be awarded with a product label by park authority.
Significant scenic, natural and cultural value
Of significant value in a Park of National Importance are forests and waters rich in biodiversity, rare habitats such as marshlands, alluvial zones and dry meadows, and unique landscapes of exceptional beauty such as the Jura Heights in the Jurapark Aargau or the glaciers in Parc Adula (GR). In addition, the buffer zones around National Parks and Regional Nature Parks are areas of well-tended cultural landscapes, unspoilt villages and valuable cultural assets such as the St. Johann Monastery in the Biosfera Val Müstair (GR), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Backed by the people
Parks originate in the hearts and minds of the local people. The public gives the impetus for the creation of a park. Only then will the federal government support a park project and award it the park label – provided all requirements are fulfilled. The local communes play a considerable role in the park authority, making strategically important decisions about the park.
Preserving value and promoting sustainable management
Increasing numbers of communes in Switzerland are adopting policies based on sustainable development. This is particularly noticeable in the parks, where the inhabitants are aware of the special nature of the local and regional area and of the value of the landscape. This value also lies in the villages and the culture of the people living there. Communes within the parks work together and with other partners to develop visions and strategies to preserve these values and utilise them to develop their communities sustainably.