Switzerland's varied geography and climate have produced a great wealth of biodiversity. The federal government has introduced a raft of measures to safeguard the country's rich natural heritage.
It is estimated that Switzerland is home to around 50,000 species of plants, fungi and animals, of which 3,700 appear on the red list of endangered species. This rich biodiversity is thanks to Switzerland's varied geography and climate. The alpine regions and forests are home to most of these species.
Biodiversity in flux
Biodiversity has fluctuated considerably over time. It is thought that Switzerland’s biodiversity peaked towards the middle or end of the 19th century. While the number of species has risen, this development is due to the arrival of non-natives, making certain habitats more uniform and depriving them of their uniqueness. Despite the raft of protective measures that Switzerland has taken, its biodiversity is at risk and its long-term survival is far from guaranteed.
Biodiversity protection in Switzerland
Switzerland was one of the first countries in the world to monitor its biological diversity. Specialists regularly compile inventories of the animals and plants found in all parts of the country. Added to this is the strategy developed by the federal government in 2012 to protect and promote biodiversity.
Switzerland has also signed the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which aims to reverse the worldwide decline in the number of different species of animals, plants and other organisms.
Switzerland currently has 16 regional national parks where flora and fauna can thrive naturally. In 1914 the Swiss National Park opened in the canton of Graubünden, a first in both Switzerland and central Europe. Additional parks have been created since 2008 on the basis of the Federal Act on the Protection of Nature and Cultural Heritage. Since then, all parts of the country have launched a number of projects to preserve their natural heritage.