Dry Meadows and Pastures
Dry meadows and pastures are considered as hotspots of biodiversity. Half of all the animal species and two thirds of the plant species of Switzerland (40 % among them are rare or endangered species) are living on these dry meadows and pastures. Many of them are listed as endangered “red list species”. Characteristic red list species in dry meadows and pastures of the UNESCO World Heritage site are Vermouth du Valais (Artemisia valesiaca), the Dented Groundhopper (Tetrix depressa), the Patton’s tiger (Hyphoraia testudinaria) and the hoopoe.
Dry meadows and pastures are colorful and rich in species. As typical element of cultural landscapes in Switzerland they are also of touristic relevance supplementary to their ecological importance.
But this cultural heritage is endangered: in only 60 years almost 90% of the dry meadows and pastures disappeared. But there are still insufficient efforts to protect and to restore this sensitive and valuable habitats. The man made ecosystems can only be protected, if their extensive use is maintained. But more and more of these marginal areas are overgrown with shrubs and wood because their agricultural production is no more profitable and consequently farming is given up.
The existing and endangered dry meadows and pastures in the World Heritage Region have been analysed by experts, farmers and regional and local authorities, and measures for their protection and restoration identified. Land use agreements and awareness rising of farmers and inhabitants are crucial. The organization of maintenance programmes for meadows and pastures with volunteers and civil service will contribute to the protection of the areas.