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Switzerland’s varied geography and climate have produced a great wealth of biodiversity and a 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. The alpine regions and forests are home to most of these species. Biodiversity has fluctuated considerably over time; it is thought that Switzerland’s biodiversity peaked towards the middle or end of the 19th century before many large mammals were hunted to extinction. While the number of species has risen since then, the 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.

There are several thousand designated conservation areas in Switzerland, most of which are managed by the cantons or private organizations. All of the protected areas within Switzerland come under IUCN management categories Ia and IV with national ministry governance. Shortly after the Swiss EAGL was formed, the first candidate, the Swiss National Park, applied to the IUCN Green List Standard. Founded over 100 years ago, the national park still plays a role as a pioneer for innovations and further protected areas will now follow. It is currently being discussed how a protected area can achieve the Green List Standard and then, as a kind of landscape anchor, pick up the important nature protection contributions from the surrounding area. This could improve the connectivity in densely populated Switzerland and strengthen the areas bordering the protected area. The use of protected areas for tourism, whilst adhering to the Green List Standard, is also of great interest to Switzerland.

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