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How to stop urban sprawl in Switzerland?


Urban sprawl refers a particular type of suburban development characterized by very low-density settlements, transportation dominated by private cars, and unlimited outward expansion. The more area has been built over and the more dispersed the buildings are, the higher is the degree of urban sprawl. Typical effects are, for example, the loss of habitats and recreational areas, low densities of buildings and inhabitants, separation of housing and work places, and high numbers of commuters. Concern about the effects of urban sprawl has increased considerably in the scientific, planning, business and political worlds. Data are therefore needed which allow comparison of the degree of urban sprawl in different regions.


The emphasis of the project is on identifying trends for future development (up to 2020 and 2050) and on interpreting their implications. Based on the results, the project will draw conclusions for regional planning and propose new measures for controlling urban sprawl according to the principles of sustainable development.


The project will investigate the development of urban sprawl in Switzerland from 1940 to 2002 in quantitative terms (map of the degree of urban sprawl, time series of the degree, spatial comparison). The time series tracking the degree of urban sprawl will be used as a sustainability indicator in the MONET (monitoring sustainable development) project and for monitoring purposes in the "Swiss Spatial Monitoring Programme" conducted by the ARE (Federal Office for Spatial Development). To identify trends and their implications, the project will develop and compare a set of alternative scenarios based on the development of the human population in Switzerland and on the spatial distribution of new urban developments.


The project will provide information on the current status and historical development of urban sprawl as a foundation for regional planning, traffic planning, decision making and policy. Furthermore, the data will be useful - as an environmental monitoring indicator, - for environmental protection, to raise awareness of the problem among the general public.

Project title: Degree of urban sprawl in Switzerland: Quantitative analysis 1940-2002 and implications for regional planning

Grant: CHF 178 990.-
Duration: 18 months

PD Dr. Felix Kienast
Eidgenössische Forschungsanstalt
für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft WSL
Zürcherstrasse 111
8903 Birmensdorf
Tel 044 739 23 66
Fax 044 737 40 80


Chair of Nature and Landscape Protection of the ETHZ   open >
Landscape Fragmentation (a german research project)   open >
ETH life: Zerschneidung erstmals vermessen (german)
article about landscape fragmentation
  open >
Ecosystem Management group at ETH Zurich   open >


  kick-off poster (152KB) 09.02.2006    open >
  Messung der Zersiedelung: Resultate (german) (88KB) 12.03.2007    open >
  Zersiedelung: Wie lässt sich eine Trendwende erreichen? (german) (179KB) 12.03.2007    open >
  NFP 54 Newsletter (german) (832KB) 12.03.2007    open >
  Aufgaben und Grenzen von Messgrössen für die Landschaftsstruktur - das Beispiel Zersiedlung (in german) (751KB) 14.07.2006    open >
  scientific abstract (134KB) 13.04.2006    open >
  Fortschreitende Zerschneidung und Zersiedelung der Landschaften in der Schweiz – unaufhaltsam? (484KB) 12.07.2007    open >
  Suitability criteria for measures of urban sprawl (272KB) 06.12.2009    open >
  Urban permeation of landscapes and sprawl per capita: New measures of urban sprawl (852KB) 06.12.2009    open >
  Neophyte species richness at the landscape scale under urban sprawl and climate warming (1406KB) 06.12.2009    open >
  Die Zersiedlung der Landschaft (529KB) 21.07.2011    open >
  L’état du paysage en Suisse (7209KB) 21.07.2011    open >
  Landschaftszersiedelung Schweiz-Quantitative Analyse 1935 bis 2002 (5488KB) 21.07.2011    open >
  Measuring and assessing urban sprawl-what are the remaining options for future (1774KB) 21.07.2011    open >
  Weiterhin steigende Zersiedelung der Schweiz (179KB) 21.07.2011    open >
  Wie lässt sich die Zersiedelung der Landschaft eindämmen (832KB) 21.07.2011    open >
  Zustand der Landschaft in der Schweiz (7151KB) 21.07.2011    open >


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