Nature protection and biodiversity - State and impacts (Switzerland)

SOER 2010 Common environmental theme (Deprecated)
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SOER Common environmental theme from Switzerland
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 11 May 2020

Around 40 000 species of plants, animals and fungi are known in Switzerland. Around a quarter have been evaluated and inventoried. Of the 13 500 species evaluated, 36 % are on Red Lists; taking the category of near-threatened species into account, almost 50 % are vulnerable. 236 species are classified in Switzerland as regionally extinct. For around three-quarters of all species, little, if anything, is known about population sizes.

Initial findings of the Swiss Biodiversity Monitoring Programme (BDM) indicate a steady increase in the diversity of vascular plant species in the past five years, especially in the montane zone. However, particularly frequent newly occurring plant species on BDM monitoring sites include dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), rough-stalked meadow-grass (Poa trivialis), white clover (Trifolium repens) and common bugle (Ajuga reptans). These are common, nutrient-loving species. It appears that such species have continued to spread over the past five years, leading to a homogenisation and simplification of the landscape (FOEN, 2009).

The Swiss Bird Index (SBi®) shows an inconsistent trend in populations of breeding birds between different ecosystems. Taking a collective view of all the bird species that breed regularly in Switzerland, a slight positive trend can be discerned. Narrowing the focus to the 38 species currently red-listed, however, severe fluctuations are apparent within already low population levels.

Switzerland’s native flora and fauna are faced with the growing problem of exotic organisms (neobiota, alien invasive species). These are species that humans have introduced, intentionally or unintentionally, to areas beyond their natural distribution. Around 10 % of these species proliferate rapidly in their new locations and can suppress native animals and plants. Some examples are the signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus), the harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) or the Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica). Individual invasive species, such as common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), can also cause human health problems.

Switzerland’s wetlands, although for the most part formally under protection, are still suffering dramatic quality losses. In the last five years, an average of 25 % of the protected wetlands has become drier, poorer in peat and richer in nutrients, and there is an increased amount of woody plants. Implementation of buffer zones is difficult and incomplete.


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

Filed under: SOER2010, biodiversity
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