More nature parks but no government funds
The government has announced plans for new nature parks in Switzerland in an attempt to boost local tourism.
It gave in to pressure by parliament but ruled out granting federal funds for the parks.
"Nature parks are perfect examples for a policy of sustainability," said the environment minister, Moritz Leuenberger, presenting the cabinet proposals on Wednesday.
He said such parks would allow the promotion of ecologically friendly tourism, ensure the survival of local businesses in remote areas, as well as encourage nature conservation.
The cabinet proposals foresee three different types of parks varying in size, degree of nature protection and commercial use.
The new parks may apply for a quality label from the federal authorities but are not eligible for government funding.
Leuenberger said the cabinet wanted the cantonal authorities or private sponsors to finance the park projects. The plans have still to be discussed by parliament.
In a first reaction, a leading environmental organisation, Pro Natura, criticised the government for refusing to give the projects financial backing.
Leuenberger said he expected up to 15 new national and regional parks, and recreational areas to be set up over the next ten years.
Currently there is only one national park in south-eastern Switzerland. It attracts 150,00 visitors annually and creates revenue of SFr17 million ($14.6 million) for the tourism industry, the agriculture sector and local businesses.
Wednesday’s announcement marks a policy change by the cabinet in the wake of repeated calls by parliament.
Initially the cabinet had refused to include plans for new parks in its four-year government programme for financial reasons.
swissinfo with agencies
National parks enjoy a high degree of nature protection and cover a surface of at least 100km2.
Regional nature parks are smaller in size and can include villages.
Recreational areas, near urban centres, can be used for sports activities.
Under the government proposals, two additional national parks, ten regional nature parks and three recreational areas could be created.
They would be funded by the country’s cantonal authorities and private sponsors.
Currently there is only one national park in Switzerland. It’s situated in an alpine environment in the south-eastern canton of Graubünden.
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