The Federal Environment Agency has set a 2002 deadline for the protection of wetlands, saying Swiss cantons have been dragging their feet in implementing protection regulations issued nearly a decade ago.This content was published on September 17, 1999 - 11:29
The Federal Environment Agency has set a 2002 deadline for the protection of wetlands, saying Swiss cantons have been dragging their feet in implementing protection regulations issued nearly a decade ago.
“For Switzerland, the wetlands are the equivalent of the rainforest,” said the deputy-head of the agency, Willy Geiger, at a news conference in Berne on Friday.
Swiss wetlands are low-lying areas which are flooded regularly by unchannelled rivers. Biologists consider these partially flooded regions as a prime habitat for rare animal species and plant life. According to the agency, 90 percent of wetlands have disappeared in the past 200 years.
The agency says that, while some of the country’s 26 cantons have implemented the 1992 wetlands protection measures, many cantons have failed to meet the six-year deadline, which has now passed.
Geiger said the agency would now consult with the tardy regional authorities to work out a timetable for the implementation of the regulations over the next three years.
The environment agency says the following targets must be met:
-- More than 90 percent of all wetlands must be protected by measures that are mandatory for land owners.
-- Solutions must be in place to minimise the often clashing demands of economic development and environmental protection.
-- Each canton where there are wetlands must have a ready-to-go programme to revitalise the wetlands areas.
The environment office says that a survey of pro-wetlands measures taken by cantons has revealed sobering results: 55 percent of wetlands are under some sort of protection which is mandatory for landowners. But only 20 percent of wetlands are protected in full compliance with the 1992 regulations.
The office says that tourism, industrial production and (hydroelectric) power plants are still posing a serious threat to the biologically precious wetlands nature reserves.
From staff and wire reports.
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