Wildlife-friendly agriculture

    If Swiss agriculture is to be called sustainable, it must support the long-term persistence of native wildlife.


    By means of revitalisation, Swiss farmers can create lasting value for nature and landscapes. Our vision is for an agriculture that dedicates 15% of farmland to high-quality ecological compensation areas and employs sustainable farming practices and harvest techniques. Arable land in particular needs to include at least 5% high-quality ecological compensation areas to ensure the future of wildlife in agricultural areas.

    Read more about our standpoint:


    The Swiss Ornithological Institute supports wildlife-friendly agriculture by providing information and education and by conducting pioneering projects.

    We expect that

    • agriculture embraces the multifunctionality approach anchored in the Swiss federal constitution, focusing not merely on the production of food but also on the production of biodiversity,
    • agriculture enhances biodiversity on farmland with high-quality compensation areas and appropriate cropping systems,
    • agricultural education and advisory services put more emphasis on ecological aspects and wildlife-friendly farming practices,
    • policy-makers prompt the shift towards ecologically effective direct payments,
    • policy-makers link ecological payments more closely to habitat requirements of typical and threatened farmland species.

    From 2024, farmers are required to cultivate 3.5% of arable land as ecological compensation areas. The Swiss Ornithological Institute works to ensure that high-quality elements (rotational fallows, wild-flower plots, field margins, perennial strips to attract beneficial insects) are created in suitable locations. In doing so, the Swiss Ornithological Institute is in service of nature, supports food production and contributes to beautiful agricultural landscapes.

    Information for farmers and advisors: www.agrinatur.ch


    Wildlife-friendly agriculture is of crucial importance for the survival of numerous species. When biodiversity is intact, the benefits are great from an agronomic perspective as well, and the foundation is laid for sustainable and long-term agricultural use. Wildlife-friendly agriculture contributes to a vibrant, varied landscape and an increased quality of life.


    Together with local farmers and other partners we work to ecologically restore agricultural areas and demonstrate that such locally led restoration programmes result in increased biodiversity (Klettgau, Wauwil Plain, St. Gallen Rhine Valley, Weidist cultural landscape). To effectively enhance biodiversity, sufficient ecological compensation areas have to be implemented, and they should be of high ecological quality. Wildflower areas (similar to set-asides) and rotation fallows have repeatedly been shown to be extremely valuable for biodiversity.

    To get farmers to implement biodiversity measures on their farms, a thorough advisory service is needed. A whole-farm advisory service including an analysis of ecological as well as economic aspects has proved very useful. During advisory, the indicator species system and the credit point system have been helpful (Scoring with biodiversity).

    Collaborating closely with agricultural organisations, we make sure that foods from wildlife-friendly production are brought to market and the higher production costs are remunerated adequately (projects: re-cultivation of Emmer and Einkorn and IP-Suisse).

    Atlas Focus: Agriculture has a responsibility for bird conservation

    Project management

    Hubert Schürmann, Simon Hohl


    IP Suisse
    Several local and regional partners

    Financial support

    Numerous project donors


    Graf, R., D. Hagist, J. Zellweger-Fischer, V. Chevillat, R. von Sury & S. Birrer (2020):
    Quantität und Qualität naturnaher Lebensräume im Agrargebiet.
    Zellweger-Fischer, J., P. Althaus, S. Birrer, M. Jenny, L. Pfiffner & S. Stöckli (2016):
    Relevé de la biodiversité sur les exploitations agricoles à l'aide d'un système à points.
    Birrer, S., P. Mosimann-Kampe, M. Nuber, S. Strebel & N. Zbinden (2013):
    Ökologischer Ausgleich und Brutvögel - das Beispiel Grosses Moos 1997-2009.
    Pasinelli, G., K. Meichtry-Stier, S. Birrer, B. Baur & M. Duss (2013):
    Habitat Quality and Geometry Affect Patch Occupancy of Two Orthopteran Species.
    Zollinger, J. L., S. Birrer, N. Zbinden & F. Korner-Nievergelt (2013):
    The optimal age of sown field margins for breeding farmland birds.
    Chevillat, V., O. Balmer, S. Birrer, V. Doppler, R. Graf, M. Jenny, L. Pfiffner, C. Rudmann & J. Zellweger-Fischer (2012):
    Plus de surfaces de compensation écologique et de meilleure qualité grâce au conseil.