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The Federal Council wishes to better protect the biodiversity and benefits of Baukultur in Switzerland. There should be more space for animals and plants. In addition, municipalities and cities must do more to protect biodiversity.
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The Federal Council suggests that in the future, 17 acres instead of the current 13.4 percent of the area should be available as space for animals and plants. The extended area will be achieved with the addition of regional and local biotopes or the expansion of forest reserves. In addition, existing national protected areas must be rehabilitated when necessary.
The Federal Council proposes this as an indirect counter-proposal to the Biodiversity Initiative. He said he conveyed his message to Parliament on Friday. The Federal Council rejects the initiative itself because it considers that it would excessively limit the scope of action of the federation and the cantons.
However, it is clear that biodiversity and landscapes must be better protected and enhanced, writes the Federal Council. The increase in the legally protected area is intended to secure the area necessary for biodiversity throughout the country and for all types of habitat.
Living creatures and bridges of wildlife
In the protection of nature and cultural heritage, the federal government and the cantons should also be obligated to secure, maintain and develop the so-called “environmental infrastructure”. Biotopes, forest reserves and national protected areas are essential components of the environmental infrastructure. The target is 17% for these essential elements.
Contact areas where species can move freely to feed, reproduce, or colonize new habitats are also included. Close-to-nature waterways, forest edges, ecologically valuable green spaces, wildlife bridges and highway amphibian corridors are areas of contact.
Greening cities and communities
The Federal Council writes that the high quality and quantity of nature is of high value for both biodiversity and the well-being of the population. For this reason, he also wants to promote nature and “ecological balance” in cities and communities even more. Municipalities must work with the cantons to promote measures such as semi-natural green spaces and water bodies or green roofs and facades in settlements.
According to the embassy, the majority of the proposed new regulations on environmental compensation were critically received at the consultation. As an alternative to the legal amendments, some have proposed a drive program that supports the cantons in preserving and enhancing the natural environment in the settlements. They argue that the obligation for environmental compensation is already firmly entrenched in law today and that more funds are needed to support implementation.
Taking care of the natural and cultural heritage
As a third element, the Federal Council wants to enhance the quality and attractiveness of Swiss settlements and landscapes through an inclusive building culture. This is also a concern for initiators. The building culture should combine the protection and care of the natural and cultural heritage with the additional high-quality development of the settlement area. The goal is for cities and communities to be able to adapt to new requirements while at the same time preserving their historical characteristics.
According to the letter, the Federal Council assumes that the implementation of these measures will result in annual costs of 96 million Swiss francs for the federation and 90 million Swiss francs for the cantons. Above all, the federal law on the protection of nature and heritage must be amended.
The initiators are still not satisfied
The initiative was launched at the beginning of September 2020 by the supporting association “Yes to More Nature, Landscape and Building Culture” and presented the “For the Future of Our Nature and Landscape (Biodiversity Initiative)” initiative. It wants to obligate the federal government and the cantons to better protect biodiversity, landscapes and architectural heritage. It calls for more land and more public funds for biodiversity.
And the consultations have already shown that the proposal does not go far enough for the various parties – the Greens, the Socialist Party, the Green Liberals – and the environmental and animal protection organizations. The sponsoring association stuck to criticism even after the amendment. The counter-proposal provides an inadequate answer to the acute biodiversity crisis and the loss of landscape and building culture, the Federation wrote on the Federal Council decision.
More space is needed for biodiversity and more funds to implement protection. The Swiss Fisheries Association also criticized in a statement that the Federal Council canceled fish protection zones without replacement after consultation. The sponsoring union also wrote that these actions should resume. Parliament should significantly improve the indirect counterproposal. (sda)
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