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A history of the Swiss landscape: a look back offers ideas for the future

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Mountains, lakes, picturesque vil­lages: think of the Swiss landscape and these are the pictures that spring to mind. But do these pictures hold true – or, rather, do they still hold true? The landscape around us is changing constantly. Just as 15,000 years ago the landscape was molded by glaciers and weathering processes, now these formative interventions are being made by man. Today, the Swiss landscape is required to meet a diverse range of societal needs in a relatively small space. A look back at history can help instill some order into the changes happening today, and offer ideas for careful manage­ment of the landscape. It is with this in mind that Geschichte der Land­schaft in der Schweiz (A history of the Swiss landscape) is published this spring. As Matthias Bürgi, landscape researcher at WSL and co-author of the book, explains: “Switzerland is, in a very real sense, a landscape laboratory. You’ll find almost all the landscape themes here that are discussed in other European countries.” (Lisa Bose, Diagonal 1/16)