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Direct democracy Initiatives launched to protect wildlife and landscapes

sprawl

An initiative to freeze construction zones failed to win enough votes last month. 

(© Keystone / Eq Images / Moritz Hager)

Four environment organisations have launched two initiatives: one to protect biodiversity and the other to stop the spread of built-up areas.

On Tuesday, Pro Natura, BirdLife Switzerland, the Swiss Heritage Society and the Swiss Foundation for Landscape Protection and Development launched the initiatives as they felt parliament had weakened regulations on protecting natural heritage.

According to the NGOs, more than 2,000 new buildings were constructed last year outside designated building zones, 400 of them for housing. They state that the second phase of the revision of the Planning Act presented by the government at the end of last year does not go far enough. The landscape initiative wants clear rules on construction outside designated building areas.

+ Voters say no to freeze on construction zones

The biodiversity initiative calls on the government and the cantons to preserve and increase biodiversity in Switzerland. The initiators want a guarantee on the money and land needed to maintain biodiversity. According to the initiators, the government's biodiversity action plan has serious shortcomings. The plan’s initial implementation phase – 2017 to 2023 – includes measures such as maintaining and rehabilitating existing protected areas as well as creating new forest reserves.

Supporters of the initiatives have until September 26, 2020 to collect at least 100,000 signatures to put the proposals to a nationwide vote.

Direct democracy 

They are the latest attempts to amend the Swiss constitution as part of the country's system of direct democracy. Five initiatives have been launched since the beginning of the year, while two other campaigns collected the necessary signatures and submitted them to the Federal Chancellery for validation in the past three months.

Last week,  a group of young entrepreneurs handed in more then 113,000 signatures for a people's initiative aimed at promoting organ donations

The non-profit Swisstransplant foundation wants to change the law to reverse the explicit ‘opt-in’ policy of consent by a potential organ donor and introduce the principle of presumed consent.

SDA-Keystone/ac, urs

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