Alpine pastures are a distinctive feature of the cultural landscape of Switzerland. Available data indicate that land-use of Alpine pastures decreased during the 20th century. This becomes most evident looking at the spontaneous forest re-growth on marginal land in the Swiss mountains. The decrease in the number of livestock grazing on Alpine pastures has been slowed by subsidies for pasturing since 1980. The tendency for land use to develop in two contrasting ways, with both intensification and either extensification or abandonment has not, however, been broken. How will the use of Alpine pastures develop in future and what will the consequences be for, e.g. the diversity of cultural landscapes and species or the prevention of natural hazards? These are just a few out of numerous questions to illustrate that there is a considerable need for research.