Monitoring the Effectiveness of Habitat Conservation in Switzerland WBS

To protect precious habitats and the biodiversity, Switzerland designated about 7000 sites of national importance. These sites are legally protected and include fens and raised bogs, dry grasslands, and flood plain habitats as well as amphibian breeding sites. In 2011, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the WSL Swiss Federal Research Institute launched the joint project "Monitoring the effectiveness of habitat conservation in Switzerland WBS" to observe developments and changes in these sites.

The sites of national importance are a crucial element of the network of protected sites in Switzerland. The WBS is using remote sensing as well as extensive floristic and faunistic field surveys to evaluate whether these sites are developing in line with their conservation targets and whether the area and quality of habitats is being maintained. These indicators permit the identification of negative changes at both national and regional level, such that appropriate measures can be initiated. The WBS is operated as a long-term program. The first survey period was finished in 2017, the second period will be terminated in 2023.

First results show that raised bogs and fens become drier. Dry grasslands are experiencing shrub encroachment and higher nutrient values. Each national amphibian breeding site has lost an average of one amphibian species. However, there were also positive developments; for example, in the raised bogs of the Swiss lowlands, woody cover decreased. Populations of rare amphibian species have also stabilized in some cases.

These positive findings demonstrate that conservation measures are effective and should therefore be continued or even enhanced.

The results of the first WBS survey period were published in three documents: a detailed report, and an abridged version summarising the most important information in both  German and French:




Claudio de Sassi (FOEN)

Rolf Holderegger (WSL)


Project management

Jérôme Frei (FOEN)

Ariel Bergamini (WSL)


Module Vegetation

Ariel Bergamini

Module Management

Angéline Bedolla

Coordination field works

Steffen Boch

Data analysis

Klaus Ecker

Sample design

Ulrich Graf


Helen Küchler

Bryophytes determination

Tobias Moser


Fieldbotanists: Angéline Bedolla, Ariel Bergamini, Steffen Boch, Ulrich Graf, Daniel Hepenstrick, Alain Jotterand, laurent Juillerat, Christoph Käsermann,, Thomas Kiebacher, Daniel Knecht, Helen Küchler, Mary Leibundgut, Esther Meduna, Markus Meier, Tobias Moser, Niklaus Müller.


Module Remote sensing

Christian Ginzler

Module management

Birgit Eben

Aerial photo interpretation

Anita Nussbaumer         

Aerial photo interpretation

Achilleas Psomas   

Early warning system

Barbara Schneider


Daniel Uebersax             

Aerial photo interpretation


Modul Amphibienlaichgebiete

Benedikt Schmidt

Module management

Oliver Dosch

Data analysis

Jérôme Pellet

Data analysis

Field collaborators 2022: Adrian Aebischer, Sarah Althaus, Christophe Berney, Alberto Conelli, Sam Cruickshank, Oliver Dosch, Andi Hafner, Fabian Hoffmann, Sabine Joss, Sabrina Joye, Manuel Lingg, Mario Lippuner , Tiziano Maddalena, Andreas Meyer, Marco Nembrini, Jérôme Pellet, Thomas Reich, Timo Reissner, Andreas Rotach, Marianne Rutishauser, Dominik Scheibler, Esther Schweizer, Manfred Steffen, Flavio Zanini, Silvia Zumbach