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Sustainability issues in Switzerland's forests



Sustainability issues in Switzerland's forests



New Forests 18(1): 59-73



Basically there are three methods of regenerating a forest: sowing, planting, and natural regeneration. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, large forested areas of Switzerland were devastated by exploitation and grazing within the forest borders. A significant percentage of these areas was regenerated by planting seedlings. Thus, the Swiss landscape is the result of both land use and cultural history. Today practically no old virgin forests remain. Forests in Switzerland are required to meet diverse expectations. They function as a means of protection against avalanches, rock falls, and landslides; a source of wood; a natural habitat for animals and plants; and areas for recreation and tourism. Forest management aims to ensure all of these functions on a long-term, sustainable basis. Several problems exist with regard to sustainability in Swiss forests. Data from the Swiss National Forest Inventory reveal that the age structure is off balance, i.e., that there are too many old and not enough young forests. In addition, only two-thirds of the potential Swiss timber yield is harvested, whereas wood is imported from foreign regions where no control over the type of forest management is possible. Without a reduction in the demand for and consumption of wood, this practice, over the long term, is not a sustainable management option. The matter also raises ethical questions, e.g., is it correct to practice nature conservation in your own country while at the same time using wood produced under unsustainable conditions elsewhere?

Accession: 003290780

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DOI: 10.1023/a:1006554024098

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