More Woods and Farmland Than Settlement Areas in Cities: Statistics of the …

Union of Swiss Cities / Union des villes suisses

Bern (ots)

The statistics for Swiss cities for 2022 reveal something surprising: the soil of Swiss cities includes more forest and agricultural land than settlement areas. This emerges from the “Swiss Town Statistics 2022”, which the city association publishes together with the Federal Statistical Office BFS. Land use is the main topic this year. In addition, the usual, extensive data, for example on mobility, demographics or politics, are presented.

In the survey period from 2013 to 2018, settlement areas accounted for only 23.5 percent or nearly 95,000 hectares (ha) of the total land area of ​​the 170 Swiss cities surveyed. The settlement areas include, in addition to building and industrial areas, also areas used for circulation (roads or railways), as well as recreational and green areas such as parks or sports facilities. Surprisingly, most of the urban territory is covered with forests (32.3% / 130.789 hectares). More space is also needed for agriculture in urban areas (30.9 per cent / 124,856 ha) than for settlements. The smallest percentage of the four main land use categories are unproductive areas (13.3 per cent / 53,948 ha).

From 1985 to 2018, the proportion of settlement areas increased from 19.4 to 23.5 percent, while that of agricultural land decreased from 35.5 to 30.9 percent. 170 cities and urban communities are analyzed in the “Swiss Town Statistics”. These include the 162 cities as defined by the FSO and eight other members of the Swiss Association of Cities. Cities, some of which have a low population density, such as Köniz, Payerne or Zermatt, make up an important share. In the six largest Swiss cities, which have over 100,000 inhabitants, the picture is different: more than half of the area is occupied by settlements (54.2 per cent), while forests (29.6 per cent) and land used for agriculture (14.3 per cent) account for a significantly lower proportion than the overall calculation. There is only marginal unproductive space in the cities of Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Winterthur and Zurich (less than 2 percent combined).

Strong growth in the residential area

If we look at the settlement area of ​​the cities as a whole (94,992 ha), it turns out that most of it consists of the building area including the surrounding area (47,986 ha). Of these, 35,000 hectares are residential areas. This grew significantly in the period from 1985 to 2018 (by nearly 10,000 hectares). The areas for traffic have also increased, as well as – significantly more – those for recreation and green areas. However, the industrial area in cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants has decreased by 26 percent, with the extent that varies greatly from city to city.

Corona stops city tourism

Statistics for 2020 also show how badly city tourism has suffered as a result of the corona pandemic. Zurich (597,660 guests), Geneva (325,372) and Lucerne (276,742) received around two thirds fewer guests than in 2019 and Basel (295,079) the number of guests fell by around half. These burglaries can be observed in all Swiss cities.

Politics: the strongest party in the FDP

The strongest party in the city leaders is the FDP, which on average accounts for 25.3% of all seats in the city government. SP follows in second place with 20.6%. The FDP also holds the largest number of municipal councils (54 mandates out of 170; 31.8 percent). In second place is the SP with 38 praesidi. Women are still under-represented in Swiss citizen parliaments: their share is 38.3% (+ 4.0%). They are even more under-represented in municipal managers (31.0 percent; + 1.6% compared to the previous year). After all, they are the majority in 22 cities. In 2020, this was the case for just 17 cities.

As usual digital and like Open government data accessible

The content of the 83rd edition of the “Swiss Town Statistics” is also available as a digital publication. The underlying data is also made available to the public on the SSV website, in the FSO data catalogs and via the “” platform.

Download: Swiss Town Statistics 2022

Press contact:

Martin Flügel, Director: 079 743 90 05

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