Swiss cities found to have more forests than houses

Swiss cities found to have more forests than houses

A new report by the Federal Statistical Office has found that in Swiss cities, only 23,5 percent of the land is used for housing, roads and infrastructure. The Statistics of Swiss Cities 2022 report discovered that forests and fields cover the most ground in city boundaries, relegating living space to third place.

Most cities in Switzerland have more forests than houses

The study looked at 170 cities in Switzerland and analysed what every hectare of the municipality is used for, including houses and apartments, industrial areas, roads, motorways and green areas like parks, forests, fields and sports facilities.

The report found that 32,3 percent of the land in Swiss cities is occupied by forests at around 131.000 hectares. Agriculture took second place with 30,9 percent or 125.000 hectares.

Swiss cities continue to grow in size

Surprisingly, the report found that only 23,5 percent of Swiss cities are actually used for housing and businesses. The smallest share of land is assigned to so-called “unproductive land,” accounting for 13,3 percent of most Swiss cities' area.

In the past, however, cities in Switzerland were even greener, with a study in 1985 finding that only 19,4 percent of city areas were used for living, working and shopping. The cities with the highest amount of green space and the lowest population density today are Köniz (Canton Bern), Payerne (Canton Vaud) and Zermatt (Canton Valais).

Among the cities with populations of more than 100.000 people, the report found that over 50 percent of space is used for housing and businesses. Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern, Lausanne and Winterthur saw their residential areas grow by 10.000 hectares between 1985 and 2018, with industrial sites seeing a dramatic decline over the same period.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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