Switzerland’s current intensive agricultural model is unsustainable socially, economically and environmentally. But what are Friends of the Earth and farmers doing to protect biodiversity in Switzerland?
Friends of the Earth Switzerland/ Pro Natura supports multifunctional agriculture which produces food but also protects biodiversity and the landscape. To support this vision, Pro Natura works with farmers to re-use dry (and biodiversity-rich) abandoned pastures in the Alps; to demonstrate alternatives to land abandonment and show the role of traditional farming in maintaining biodiversity.
More than 95% of dry grasslands have disappeared from Switzerland in the last century. Pro Natura works to preserve and promote the use of the uplands for farming. Several grazing projects have been initiated in the cantons of Graubünden, Uri and Valais with hundreds of hectares already upgraded. The projects are implemented in collaboration with local farmers and local authorities.
These grazing projects also promote biodiversity, with 77 species of butterflies and 22 species of grasshoppers identified in the one single project area. This includes nationally endangered species.
In 2018-19, two itinerant goat herds of about 80 animals each were also successfully tested to clean up bushy areas across Alpine regions and restore biodiversity-rich meadows for use. Since the test was successful, the project has been extended and implemented every year since.
Besides practical work in collaboration with farmers, Pro Natura also does advocacy and awareness-raising work for a cleaner, pesticide-free agriculture, and has been campaigning for many years against GMOs. This resulted in a moratorium on GMOs approved by referendum at a national level in 2005.
Pro Natura raises awareness and mobilises the public by exposing the negative impacts of the current, unsustainable agriculture model and promotes a climate-friendly and socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable model of agriculture which preserves nature.