Das Verhältnis der Schweizer Bevölkerung zum Wald. Waldmonitoring soziokulturell: Weiterentwicklung und zweite Erhebung – WaMos 2
Around 30 % of Switzerland's surface area is covered with forest and represents an integral part of the population's everyday landscape. It is, thus, important for politicians and planners at all levels to know how the Swiss population relates to the forest so that they can best promote and maintain the various forest functions and the quality of the habitat for the public. The relationship of the Swiss with the forest has been explored in several studies, in particular as part of the so-called "Socio-cultural forest monitoring" (WaMos) in 1997.
In this report the follow-up project, WaMos 2, is described. It explores the relationship of the population with the forest on three levels: 1) their attitudes to the forest, 2) what they know about it and particular measures and policies that affect it, and 3) their behaviour, e.g. when visiting forests or buying wood. In addition, WaMos 2 is intended to develop the content and methodology of WaMos further, and establish it as a reliable tool for social forest monitoring.
To meet these goals, a representative survey of the Swiss residential population was conducted (N = 3022, response rate 38 %) by means of computer-assisted telephone interviews (with the option, chosen by 41 %, to switch to an online questionnaire).
One finding is that respondents value the forest's recreational function very highly, but not as highly as other forest functions like timber production, protection against natural hazards, and biodiversity. The forest's productive function was rated as much more important than it was in 1997. We also found that people prefer the forest to be varied, clearly structured, coherent and mysterious. They distinguished concrete forest attributes, such as the existence of dead wood, species distribution, and infrastructure elements, more clearly than in WaMos 1. Their preferences and perceived actual states mostly matched well. Regarding the development of the forest area, most respondents mistakenly believed that it was decreasing rather than increasing in size. The proportion of people who assessed the development correctly has, however, increased markedly since 1997. The health of the forest was commented on very positively and its development was assessed much more positively than in WaMos 1. The findings about respondents' attitudes to forest ecology indicate that they perceive the forest to be a threatened habitat. Not only was pollution mentioned as a threat, but so too were housing development and climate change. The majority of respondents assumed that natural hazard events causing damage are increasing, whereas in WaMos 1, a slightly smaller proportion expected there to be more such events.
Turning to forest recreation, we found that the Swiss visit the forest on average once or twice a week in summer and once or twice a month in winter. This pattern has remained virtually unchanged since 1997. However, people today tend to engage in a wider variety of activities. This might explain why proportionally more reported being disturbed when spending time in the forest. But most said they nevertheless enjoyed it and felt refreshed afterwards. Their motives for going into the forest appeared to be mainly to "experience nature" and to "be active and keep fit", as well as to a lesser extent to have a "social experience". These motives fit well with the activities they report.
How the Swiss relate to the forest in general is greatly influenced by their fundamental values, i.e., their general environmental orientation and their forest preferences, which affect almost all aspects of the human-forest relationship. Socio-demographic and spatial variables, such as forest ownership or how close the forest is to residential areas, appeared to have less influence on the human-forest relationship. Switzerland's regional division into different language regions and forest zones affects some aspects of the relationship between the Swiss and the forest. This means that regional characteristics and results specific to the region should be taken into account when designing measures and policies.