Under Swiss law, the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch is also a Regional Nature Park. The biosphere was recognised as a park of national importance in 2008. In July 2017, BAFU (the Federal Office for the Environment) reviewed and approved a rebranding application from the canton and the park authority. As a result, the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch became the first park to enter a second 10-year phase of operation in 2018.
Since 2008, regions with high-value natural environments and landscapes have been designated ‘Regional Nature Parks’. According to the Swiss Parks Ordinance (which defines the legal basis and the requirements), these are regions with rare and diverse habitats, landscapes of outstanding beauty and uniqueness and regions with low levels of encroachment on these specific values. Where the preconditions are met, it is possible to set about planning and developing a region, subject to the support of the population and the establishment of a park authority.
Regional nature parks aim to promote economic and societal development for the long term (in contrast to national parks, where people do not live within the park perimeters). This can be achieved through nature-based tourism or the development and promotion of regional products. One explicit goal of nature parks is to preserve and enhance both nature and the landscape. Achieving this aim is critical, not least because maintaining an intact environment and preserving landscapes is the most important asset in terms of nature tourism and environmental education. At present, Switzerland can point to a wealth of park projects. This has led to the formation of a national umbrella organisation (the Swiss Parks Network) which oversees matters of concern to the various parks, ensures experiences are shared and coordinates public relations. The organisation can provide more information on parks and the current status of all park-related projects in Switzerland.
Swiss Parks Network