In 2011, WSL and the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) launched the joint project, "Monitoring the Effectiveness of Habitat Conservation in Switzerland." The project aims to determine whether habitats of national importance (dry meadows and pastures, alluvial areas, bogs and fens, amphibian breeding sites) are changing according to their conservation targets and maintaining the same surface area and quality. Long-term monitoring effectiveness should also provide an early-warning system for the federal government and cantons, ensuring that national and regional trends are detected quickly enough to take the necessary measures in good time.
The habitats of national importance are a crucial element of the Swiss protected sites network. They include the dry meadows and pastures, alluvial areas, bogs and fens and amphibian breeding sites listed in the national inventories.
Habitat state is analysed through flora and fauna surveys and aerial images. This enables the identification of habitats of national importance that are undergoing changes.
Because demands on long-term monitoring are subject to change due to shifts in social attitudes or environmental policy, the monitoring must be flexible enough to address changing and emerging issues.
By harmonizing the vegetation recording methods between the various habitat types within the project with the various other federal monitoring projects (Swiss Biodiversity Monitoring (BDM), agro-environmental monitoring (ALL-EMA), changes can be compared in a more all-encompassing manner. The data is stored in centralised federal databases and can be used by the cantons and other projects (e.g. updating the Red Lists of endangered species).