Switzerland has seen both progress and challenges in landscape conservation over the past decade, with recent decisions on renewable energy sparking concerns, according to the Swiss Foundation for Landscape Conservation.
The foundation highlights that Switzerland actively participated in the European Landscape Convention, created by the Council of Europe in 2000 to promote landscape preservation. Despite ratifying the Convention 12 years later, a recent study by the foundation indicates that landscape conservation has been strengthened at all levels. Notably, the government adopted the “Swiss Landscape” action plan and the “Swiss Landscape Observation” monitoring program.
However, there are areas that still require attention. The foundation points out shortcomings in the training of landscape specialists, the definition of landscape quality objectives at the cantonal and communal levels, and the integration of landscape considerations into specific sectoral laws and the subsidy system.
The foundation’s main concern lies in the swift legislation passed by the parliament to expedite renewable energy development. This has raised questions about the achievements of the European Landscape Convention.
Recently, the parliament approved a limited-time solar offensive until the end of 2025 and added a wind offensive set to take effect in early 2024. The wind offensive aims to speed up the progress of advanced wind farm projects by reducing objections and appeal time through the new law on renewable energy development.
As the foundation emphasizes, landscape protection is increasingly vital not only for biodiversity and climate preservation but also for tourism, regional identity, and recreational activities. Striking a balance between renewable energy development and landscape conservation remains a pressing challenge for Switzerland.