The community of Basadingen-Schlattingen in canton Thurgau has been awarded Switzerland’s most valuable environmental prize for its “far-sighted forest management”.
Sustainability is barely enough to achieve a long-term balanced economy, according to the Sophie and Karl Binding Foundation, which has been awarding the Binding Forest Prize 2016, worth CHF200,000 ($205,000), since 1987. Instead, sufficiency – using as few resources as possible – is a forward-looking approach.
“By cleverly limiting goals and means, the use of resources should be reduced in order to guarantee fertile land, drinkable water and clean air for future generations,” said the foundation on Tuesday.
The successful implementation of this “less-is-more principle” is why it named Basadingen-Schlattingen, near the German border in northern Switzerland, winner of the 30th Binding Forest Prize.
“Since 1392, the rule in Basadingen-Schlattingen has been that individual trees may not be cut down for long-term goals. This restraint is still practised today,” the foundation said.
There’s no radical industrial felling in the 308-hectare town with a population of around 1,800 people. Instead, it intentionally forgoes the short-term profits for the sake of keeping its old trees, which are felled only when they approach the end of their lives, the foundation wrote.
Economic and ecological value
The forest currently comprises around 2,500 spruces, 900 oaks, 300 beeches and 300 firs – all with a circumference of more than two metres.
This self-restraint will pay off in the future, according to the foundation. On the one hand economically, since some of the trees are more than 200 years old, and their above-average wood quality makes them very valuable.
There is also ecological value: the forest is very diverse and more resistant to diseases and therefore offers a habitat for rare animal and plant species, for example the endangered tree lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria) or the Great Rose Chafer (Protaetia aeruginosa).
The award ceremony will take place in Basel on June 23.
swissinfo.ch and agencies