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Climate change measures Government approves new forestry law

A worker cuts down trees infested by Asian longhorn beetles. A new law provides more funding to fight such invasive species in Swiss forests

(Keystone)

The Swiss cabinet has green-lighted a law to further protect the country’s forests and prepare them for the effects of climate change. The new measures will come into force next year. 

The federal government will spend CHF10 million ($10.3 million) more per year on making Switzerland’s forests more robust and able to withstand a changing climate. This will be done by fighting non-native pests such as the Asian longhorn beetle, whose numbers have recently increased according to the government. The new law allows for taking measures to combat such invasive species outside of designated protected areas. 

The law also foresees measures to promote natively and sustainably produced wood. Beginning January 1 of 2017, the federal government will be required to use wood products from sustainable sources in its own building projects.

Originally, the House of Representatives had sought to require the government to promote the use of Swiss wood. However, the proposal went against World Trade Organization (WTO) laws, according to Environment Minister Doris Leuthard. But during the parliamentary debate, she assured lawmakers that by promoting sustainably produced wood, the government would be automatically dealing mainly with Swiss wood products. 

The new law will also go further to protect workers in the forestry industry, requiring new courses about the dangers involved and proof that woodcutters had taken part in such education requirements. Those measures will come into force in 2018. 

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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