Nature parks everywhere. In Switzerland too?

Nature parks facilitate new identities

A success story based on courage and perseverance

naturparke

In other countries including Switzerland’s neighbours, nature parks have been commonplace for decades. Until 2008, however, the only large nature reserve in Switzerland was the National Park in the Engadine and Münstertal which had been created in 1914. In 1998 Parliamentary pressure resulted in a demand for a statutory basis on which to establish parks in suitable areas in Switzerland with the intention that these would result in durable and holistic benefits for nature and landscape protection, biodiversity, spatial planning, regional economies, tourism and the local population. The exceptional diversity of beautiful landscapes in Switzerland was just waiting to be classified as “parkworthy”.

In 2003, after a certain amount of preliminary work, I was entrusted with the Parks dossier and developed it with a team. At that time, the entirety of the task was an as yet indefinable adventure. The first step – to present a revised dispatch to Parliament – felt victim to the Federal Council’s budget cuts in 2004. As it turned out, that was the best decision the Government could have made, since it resulted immediately in renewed pressure from all political parties to make a fresh start. In 2005 the Government resolved to move ahead but, in the same Sitting, also cancelled the funding for the project. This was actually the second favourable decision for the matter itself since the question as to funding was on the agenda for the very first Sitting of the Parliamentary Commission, together with an application for quality assurance. This challenging start served only to intensify my motivation to persevere with my engagement for a subject of which I remain totally convinced to this day.

Several years of turbulent yet enlightening political work followed. Parliament eventually passed the Parks Law with a resounding majority which, for an environmental submission, is most unusual. My tasks were extremely stimulating and multifarious: countless presentations in the relevant regions, media activities, drafting the Parks Ordinance in conjunction with Cantonal governments, designing (together with external advisors) the guidelines for making and for evaluating applications by Park candidates, as well as drawing up handbooks on how to create value in nature parks through tourism; or carrying out a competition to create a Park label as a symbol of excellence. The first Nature Park was officially designated as such in 2008. By 2013 there were 15 of them and 4 applications were in the course of preparation, including two new National Parks.

It is interesting to note that one of the main reasons for the rapid growth of Nature Parks has been the surprising number of Regions which have volunteered to become active after realizing the benefits of a new identity by virtue of having a Park. Good performances are rewarded with Government funding together with the quality label “Park of National Significance”. Based on my initiative, a cooperation agreement was signed with Swiss Tourism which has ensured a globally effective marketing platform for the Swiss Nature Parks and their label.

Looking back, I am filled with satisfaction and pride that I and my inspired team were able to make a material contribution to this success story. And, for me, the moral of this story is: Courage brings rewards.

Are you looking for support from someone with courage and perseverance?

I am very willing to be motivated by your challenging project. You may count on my commitment.

 

I look forward very much to an initial discussion.
We will define the milestones together.

Simply contact me here.

In case you are not familiar with Switzerland’s Nature Parks and their manifold tourist attractions, then you can begin your exciting tour here. This App will certainly help you on your way.

What people think of me

“His foresight and his broad horizon enable him to recognize impending developments at an early stage and find adequate answers to them which can also be implemented in practice. His competence and his impressive perseverance contributed greatly to the success of three political projects which were important to this Office and to Switzerland’s international standing. First the Federal policy to create new nature parks in Switzerland which he formed substantially. Second the Swiss Landscape Concept, with it’s international reputation, giving substantial impulse to die European Landscape Convention, and third the election of Switzerland as member of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as well as his active role in the Swiss delegation to bring forward the implementation of the World Heritage Convention of 1972.”

Franz-Sepp Stulz, Head Division Nature and Landscape, Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, Berne, Switzerland. December 2010