Sixth National Report
Section I. Information on the targets being pursued at the national level
Section II. Implementation measures, their effectiveness, and associated obstacles and scientific and technical needs to achieve national targets
Section III. Assessment of progress towards each national target
1. Awareness of biodiversity values
A representative survey among the Liechtenstein population has not been conducted as of today. However, the growing number of participants at excursions, public action days, oral presentations and other relevant events lead to the assumption that the awareness of the Liechtenstein population with regard to biodiversity values is constantly rising and that its knowledge of how to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is advancing.
2. Integration of biodiversity values
Aspects of biodiversity need to be considered by law at any activity linked to area planning. Further contributions to a sustainable development of the country are provided by the implementation of the adaptation strategy on climate change. Poverty alleviation is not addressed since poverty as defined under the CBD does not occur in Liechtenstein. Up to know biodiversity values or ecosystem related services have not been transferred into monetary values (in Swiss Francs) with national accounting. In order to achieve such accounting further research needs to be done, for instance the conclusion of a national TEEB-Study. This target will thus be only achieved partly in 2020.
Due to governmental budget consolidation over the past few years several subsidies have been cut down or have been removed completely – regardless of their effects on biodiversity. New incentives have also been put on hold due to budget consolidation. The only economic sector that still receive considerable financial support is the agricultural sector, including nature as a subsector when it comes to the conservation of rough pastures. Within the countrywide budget cut of the Government the financial contributions to the agricultural sector have been spared.
4. Use of natural resources
With respect to local species that target has already been achieved. Import and export of endangered species is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to which Liechtenstein is a contractual party.
Sustainable use of natural resources is given priority in Liechtenstein. Within spatial planning the forest and agricultural areas are the most important sectors. All Liechtenstein forests are FSC-labelled today. Measures in favour of nature-oriented forestry are complemented by nature protection areas. Complications occur within the sustainable regeneration of woods because peel and bite damages of wild animals. Especially the red deer stock succeeds its habitual capacity and therefore negatively impacts the regeneration of woods.
Around 30% of Liechtenstein’s farmers manage their business in accordance with the guidelines on ecological agriculture. In order to be entitled to receive governmental subsidies it is necessary to prove that the subsidised activities apply the “Good agricultural Practice” (Gute Landwirtschaftliche Praxis, GLP) and can demonstrate an ecological performance record (Ökologischer Leistungsnachweis, ÖLN). The ÖLN encompasses measures like proper nutrient balances, regular crop rotation or measures of soil protection.
This information only refers to factors within Liechtenstein. But Liechtenstein is in particular also an import country, which raises the question of whether the environmental impacts are exported. Unlike the assessment of exports, imports are difficult to gauge due to Liechtenstein's participation in the Swiss customs areas. No survey of the sustainability of Liechtenstein imports has thus been undertaken so far.
Due to the economic similarity (customs union), it must be assumed that the consumption of imported goods and the ecological footprint are at about the same level as in Switzerland.
Relatively spoken, Liechtenstein’s consummation rate is thus 3 times higher than the available resources on earth. Liechtenstein’s CO2 emissions account for around 65% of this negative footprint. Although Liechtenstein endeavours to reduce its emissions for several years now and considering the ecological footprints of imported goods it can be assumed that the abovementioned target may not be achieved by 2020.
5. Loss of habitats
In a densely settled country like Liechtenstein, land use planning is a crucial factor for the successful protection of biodiversity. Land use planning as municipal and national planning is executed in Liechtenstein via the Construction Act. The 11 municipalities of Liechtenstein are responsible for communal planning, while the Government is responsible for transmunicipal and cross-border planning. Such planning must be undertaken in cooperation with the municipalities. In addition to the legal requirements, the basis for land use planning is made up of master plans and construction codes with zoning plans. The zoning plans include construction zones as well as agricultural and protection zones as the most important zones.
According to the governmental Spatial Planning Report an increasing extension of settlement areas can be observed. The report outlines the situation of land use planning and spatial development in Liechtenstein as well as the need for action.
The large and largely-developed construction zones offer space for about 70’000 to 100’000 people with a current population of 38’000. The generous designation of construction zones has led to spread-out settlements, resulting in sprawling and costly infrastructure facilities and a high level of private transport.
It is envisaged to stop this trend by implementing different instruments. The National Master Plan for instance should provide a frame for national land use planning. Requests for reclassification of building areas need to prove a respective demand and the urbanisation programme Werdenberg-Liechtenstein requires the introduction of clear borders for settlement areas as well an increased density of settlements.
A positive assessment can be given to the increase in quality and quantity of the Liechtenstein forest as habitat. This is shown by the latest Forest Inventory from 2010, where it is observed that the current rate of annual forest use is under the rate of annual forest regeneration.Regarding degradation and fragmentation of habitats no studies for Liechtenstein have been concluded so far. Due to the high level of scattered urbanisation together with a corresponding infrastructure and a high share of motorized individual traffic it is assumed that Liechtenstein’s valley area can be qualified as highly fragmented. The trend to further fragmentation remains strong in the valley area. In 2013 a new connection road to an industrial zone was built. Further connection streets and new cycle tracks are planned. The abovementioned target will most likely not be achieved throughout the whole country by 2020.
6. Sustainable fisheries
Not the overfishing of local waters is considered to be the reason why more than half of all local fish species in Liechtenstein have been put on the Red List. The main reason for the disappointing status of local fish species as well as for water plants are the ecomorphological impacts on these waters. The affected waters will be subsequently revitalized depending on the availability of financial means. Regarding the legal situation with respect to the use of water-dependent organisms like fishes or crayfishes no further action is currently required. The existing Act on Fisheries including its ordinances provides rest zones and rest periods for endangered species. For some species like the crayfish a strict fishing prohibition applies. This Aichi target has therefore already been achieved.
red list index
7. Areas under sustainable management
The areas that are used for forestry, agricultural or aquatic purposes are already managed in a sustainable way. Optimising potentials especially in the agricultural sector are constantly assessed and implemented where feasible. It seems therefore realistic that Liechtenstein will achieve this target.
FSC criteria for wood
ecologically managed fields in the agricultural sector
As the results of chemical assessments of the Liechtenstein waters have shown the country’s streams are poorly loaded with nutrients. Along these waters the use of fertilizers or herbicides is prohibited. Within the last years only very few incidents of water pollution occurred.
The quality target with respect to the concentration of nitrates in Liechtenstein’s groundwater is regularly met only at one measuring station. Nitrate is considered to be the most important undesirable additive of drinking water. Nitrate is used as fertilizer within the agricultural sector as well as on green fields in settlement areas. Since plants are not capable to absorb the entire nitrate the water-soluble nitrates end up in the ground water. The concentration of nitrate in the ground water serves as indicator for water quality since ground water with high nitrate concentration would most likely be loaded with other harmful substances as well.
A positive trend has been observed with regard to air quality development. The concentrations of nitrogen, ozone and particulate matter decreased within the last years.
Concentration of nitrate in ground water
concentration of nitro oxides in the air
ozone concentration in the air
concentration of particle matter in the air
9. Invasive Alien Species
Due to the commissioning of the new webbased neophyte GIS in 2013 the pathways of the invasive plant species became visible. The assessment showed that the stock of undesired species was especially high along the railroad tracks. The responsible railway company the „Österreichische Bundesbahn“ is aware of that problem but does not have the human and financial resources to address the problem in an adequate way along the whole railroad track system. Regarding the distribution of neophyte by local gardening centres a sale prohibition of the most problematic species applies. With respect to other invasive species the Government has recommended the traders to refrain from selling.
In cases where traders do not follow this recommendations it is the obligation of the salesman to inform buyers about the appropriate handling of invasive (gardening) plants in order to avoid their further spreading in local habitats.
Plant species that received a priority classification have been actively fought for years now. The ragweed Ambrosia (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) for instance was successfully removed completely from habitats in Liechtenstein.
Other species like the goldenrod (Solidago sp.) are fought especially in nature protected areas. First optical assessments lead to the assumptions that these measures were successful. No monitoring system in Liechtenstein has been set up for neozooen and neomyceten (invasive animals) yet. According to nature biological studies it was at least recorded which foreign species may occur in Liechtenstein. These animal species are currently not actively fought but their level of spreading as well as their damaging potential is carefully observed.
In summary it can be concluded that Liechtenstein may achieve main parts of its target. A complete control or even elimination of all invasive species with a priority classification seems, however, not realistic.
10. Vulnerable ecosystems
As a landlocked country Liechtenstein is not directly affected by anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs or ocean acidification. Liechtenstein is, however, affected by climate change in other ways. For instance the stock of alpine plants moves on higher grounds, local wetlands are more and more threatend to dry and the risk of invasive plant settlements constantly rises. To address these risks Liechtenstein developed a national adaptation strategy on climate change, including a respective action plan.
11. Protected areas
Around 21.7% of the country’s territory are currently designated as areas with high value for biodiversity and ecological services. Of these, 1% are nature reserves, 0.4% landscape reserves, 10.8% protected forests and 9.5% game rest zones. Since some areas overlap, 21.7% of the land area is not effectively protected but the target of 17% was reached.
12. Preventing extinctions
Due to the small size of the country as well as the specific climate-related and geological circumstances it is not possible to establish Red Lists for all animal and plant species according to the IUCN criteria. Is a specific species really endangered or simply hard to find because of its rare occurrence for instance at the margins of its common habitat? Nevertheless, Liechtenstein manages regionally adjusted Red Lists for breeding birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, crayfishes and fern and flowering plants. In order to achieve this target Liechtenstein will have to put further areas under protection, upgrade more natural habitats, avoid the destruction of living environments, stop the ongoing scattered urbanization, fight the spreading of invasive species and needs to react adequately to the effects of climate change. Since Liechtenstein’s influence on global problems like the spreading of invasive species or global warming is very limited it is more than doubtful that the above-mentioned target may be achieved until 2020.
red list index
13. Agricultural biodiversity
In the field of promoting genetic diversity, Liechtenstein has supported the project "Conservation of the Genetic Diversity of Cultivated Plants in the Principality of Liechtenstein" since 2001. Dedicated inventories have been compiled for fruit varieties, grapevines, vegetable varieties, and specifically for "Rhine Valley corn", a regional corn variety. Since Liechtenstein is not a closed region with respect to the use of cultivated plans, but rather is part of the Lake Constance-Alpine Rhine region, regional cooperation is of particular importance. From 2004 to 2008, Liechtenstein participated in an Interreg project on the protection of pomaceous fruit varieties in the Lake Constance region. In addition to variety-specific orchards and conservatory planting of seeds, cooperation exists with the Swiss GenBank for the storage of seeds. The HORTUS association serves as a platform for coordinating the necessary activities.
With respect to organisms in the wild, measures exist for the conservation of genetic diversity primarily in the forests. With the goal of conserving the genetic diversity of local races of tree species used in forestry, the natural regeneration of the forest is preferred to planting. Where planting becomes necessary, the State of Liechtenstein ensures a supply of local seeds for the forests by operating a forestry seedling nursery. Additionally, the forest reserves help conserve the genetic reservoir.
By continuing these measures Liechtenstein will most likely achieve the above-mentioned target.
14. Essential ecosystem services
An important element of sustainable development is to limit the use of natural resources under the respective level of regeneration. In addition to that an environmental friendly consummation of goods should be enabled. The most important natural resource of Liechtenstein is its drinking water. Until today there is sufficient drinking water stored and available in Liechtenstein. However, considering an ongoing climate change the use of drinking water needs to be further reduced. The daily per capita use of drinking water (including industry and service sector) declined since 1991. In 2012 the daily per capita use of drinking water was 840 litres. In 1991 the daily per capita use of drinking water was 1’078 litres.
One core measure for the protection of drinking water is the designation of drinking water protected areas. Besides the already exisiting areas Liechtenstein allocated a further proction status to a new area in 2015.
Another very important ecosystem is the Liechtenstein forest. Forests purify drinking water, produce oxygen, regulate the local climate and serve as protection shields for settlement areas against natural disasters (mudflows, avalanches). The problems of the forests have been identified and have been addressed accordingly. It will be, however, not possible to restore the complete forest related ecosystem since the regeneration of woods will take a longer time horizon. The target will therefore not be completely achieved.
drinking water protected areas
15. Ecosystem resilience
Liechtenstein’s greenhouse gas inventory shows the trend of CO2 sinks and sources within the sector of land use and forests since the base year 1990. The increase of biological matter serves as CO2 sink whereas dying forests, the harvesting of forest biomass and the loss of natural soil are qualified as CO2 source. The respective monitoring data come from the national greenhouse gas inventory which is updated annually by the Office of Environment for compliance reasons under the UN framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Gain and loss of living biomass in forests are the dominant categories when looking at the CO2 emissions and removals. There is a considerable annual variation of loss of living biomass in forests dependent on the wood harvesting rate. In 1994 and 2000 as well as 2006-2014 the loss of living biomass in forests was larger than the gain. The resulting CO2 emissions are also visible in the total emissions/removals of the LULUCF
sector (see chapter 6 of greenhouse gas inventory). Further explanatory notes on variations and trends can be found in chp. 2.3 “Sector 4 LULUCF”. Compared to these biomass changes in forests, the net CO2 equivalent emissions arising from land-use changes, from soils and HWP are relatively small. It can be observed that land-use conversions to grassland increase significantly between 1997 and 2013: higher conversion rates from forest land to grassland leads to increased CO2 emissions. However, the application of a conversion period of 20 years smoothens and delays the effect in time. The net carbon stock change in the HWP pool varies from one year to the other mainly following the production rate of sawnwood.
Relevant ecosystems for the storage of greenhouse gases in Liechtenstein are the flat moorlands. The comparison of the vegetation mapping of the biggest flat moorlands the “Ruggeller Riet” and the “Schwabbrünnen-Äscher” showed a shift of plant communities over the past 40 years. The respective results lead to the assumption that a loss of moorland area took place and that these moorlands suffer from a lack of nutrients from the air as well as from missing buffer zones, that invasive species have spread (esp. Solidago sp.) and that the overall water level is sinking. Especially the latter observation is worrying with respect to the CO2 storage capacities of the moorlands. The reasons for that are most likely a low groundwater level and the effects of climate change.Liechtenstein has identified these problems and has to some extend already launches adequate counter measures. The revitalisation of waters for instance contributes to a rising groundwater level. The problems are, however, multilayered and complex. Much time as well as considerable financial means is needed to address these problems properly. It is thus unlikely that Liechtenstein will completely achieve the target by 2020.
national greenhouse gas inventory