Canton Zug, 24.11.2022

Zug's natural areas and forests should be better protected

The canton should make CHF 75,000 available for regular supervision in Zug's nature conservation and recreation areas. This is particularly necessary in forest areas, says the president of the WaldZug association.

The problem has been known for a long time and still exists: due to the increasing settlement density, the pressure placed on Zug's natural areas by recreation-seekers is constantly increasing. This can be clearly seen in particular in forest areas, which account for around a third of the total area of canton Zug. More and more people on bikes, snowshoes and horses, as well as walkers, visit the forest areas in their free time. Groups of people are also Increasingly settling down in the forest to have a barbecue and celebrate, and even occasionally camping there, which is not even allowed in the first place.

In view of these developments, which have intensified during the Corona period, six members of the cantonal parliament (Kantonsrat) jointly submitted a postulate in November of last year regarding the "Promotion of a conflict-free coexistence between recreation seekers and nature". The concern: The government council (Regierungsrat) should allocate human and financial resources for the protection of Zug's forests and nature reserves due to the high recreational pressure.

In doing this, it should fulfil its duty to enforce the existing laws and rules and to sensitise the population. The matter is expected to be discussed in the cantonal parliament on Thursday, 24 November,

Zug's forests are often left to their own devices
Walter W. Andermatt, President of WaldZug, the association of forest owners, also hopes that the application will be approved. "In principle, we have no objection to the forest being moderately used for recreational purposes," he says. But this can become problematic for flora and fauna if it gets out of hand. "Game animals are dependent on quiet retreats," says the association president. "Furthermore, natural forest regeneration, and thereby sustainable forest management, is only possible if young plants can grow without damage."

What gives Walter Andermatt food for thought is the fact that the Zug forests are basically left to themselves, i.e. there is no regular supervision anywhere to combat bad behaviour.That this is fundamentally necessary has been shown in the recent past by the example of the Seewald forest in Zug. He continues: "Signs were ignored and sprayed over, and unofficial bike tracks were created." Similar actions can be observed regularly in the Raten area, among other places.

An example of reckless behaviour in nature: last February, the Gutschwald in Oberägeri was abused as a motorcycle track.   Image: PD

Many people still seem to be unaware that this is not only forbidden, but also pollutes the natural environment.

"It should not be the task of the association or the forest owners to have to go there themselves and fine the offenders," says Walter Andermatt.

Educating and sensitizing, instead of punishing
Similar to the pilot projects that have already been carried out, but only for a limited period of time, in which rangers were out and about in various natural areas of Zug in the summer of 2020, rangers should regularly and permanently check up on the situation in the future. They should not scold or even fine people behaving incorrectly, but seek a dialogue, draw their attention to their misconduct, educate and sensitize them. At that time, the WaldZug association was already calling for a continuation of these projects, and now hopes all the more that the canton will approve the proposal.

Specifically, CHF 75,000 per year is to be made available for the deployment of rangers. "That's a comparatively small amount of money, and it should be worth it to the canton," says Walter Andermatt.

"Just knowing that officials are looking after the forests in Zug should encourage people to take care of nature."

Ultimately, it’s only a small percentage of people who behave wrongly in nature, he adds. And experience with the pilot projects has shown that the population generally welcomes the protection of the nature conservation and recreational areas.

"The impact of the measure must, of course, be evaluated on an ongoing basis," adds Andermatt. It remains to be seen whether this approach is sufficient, or whether further resources may be needed to adequately protect the flora and fauna in the Zug Forest, as well as the property rights of forest owners. Walter Andermatt: "The forest owners hope that the cantonal parliament will recognise the problem and follows the request of the government council."