Designing our world for sustainability
Promoting sustainable human activities and people-nature interactions in protected areas, enabling a systemic transition to sustainable energy in urban and rural areas including carbon-neutral tourism, and taking steps towards a more sustainable food system.
The Canton of Bern in western central Switzerland
More than 1 million
Moors and moor landscapes are some of the rarest, most beautiful and most valuable natural areas in Switzerland. They form the habitats of many protected plants and animals. As a mountainous, agricultural canton, Bern is heavily affected by global climate change. This is increasingly resulting in dry summers, heavy precipitation, more high-temperature days and snow-poor winters.
Switzerland faces numerous challenges that threaten its diverse natural and cultural landscapes. These challenges are wide-ranging and include both specific practices and the lifestyles of local society in general. Most of the environmental impact of the Swiss comes from the areas of mobility, housing and food. For the Wyss Academy, the Bern Hub may be a source of inspiration for other European regions that will also need to one day redefine the relationship between people and nature. The Bernese incubators focus on a number of different but connected topics such as the adaptation of forest management to climate change, CO2 reduction and renewable energy, the circular economy and regional value chains, ecological infrastructure and functional ecosystem services, and the restoration of biodiversity in waterbodies and on land. All of these developments have an impact on nature and on the people living in Switzerland’s cultural landscapes. The incubator project in the Bern region’s nature parks is a good example.
Sustainable tourism in Bernese nature parks
The regional nature parks of Diemtigtal, Gantrisch, and Chasseral want to make their sustainable approaches tangible to park residents and visitors by developing new recreational opportunities that simultaneously meet the needs of nature protection, tourism, and local value generation. In the wake of a sharp increase in visitors to the nature parks during the corona pandemic, more cases of unwanted behavior were observed, including a disregard for rules of conduct in sensitive protected areas, littering, wild camping and a disrespect of private property. With newly hired rangers, or “park connoisseurs” as they are called in Diemtigtal, the parks aim at providing valuable information to visitors, sensitizing them for the impacts of careless behavior on nature, and promoting a friendly coexistence of locals and park visitors. They act as a link and mediator between guests, locals, service providers and the park office. First results have been promising. Conflicts between visitors and park residents were reduced, and visitors’ behavior changed once they understood the negative consequences their behavior had on nature and people.