At first thought, Switzerland seems to be a country free of problems. It projects an image of security and comfort. It does not have waste or pollution problems. Its roads are clean and it has an excellent railway system. It has a beautiful natural environment, lovely cities and picturesque villages. It also has a high level of employment that is the envy of many other countries. So why is a study on the spatial future of Switzerland meaningful?
Recent developments show an increased interest in this topic and its potential. Agriculture is losing its former importance; the extension of natural landscape and associated tourism offers an attractive approach to dealing with this. The result could be the transformation of Switzerland into a European Central Park, offering leisure activities and landscapes to rival the French Ecrins or the Canada's Rocky Mountains.
This would not only provide Switzerland with a European role but would also represent a response to some of the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol. It would create oxygen for the rest of Europe and, by providing space for biosphere development; it would help to establish a distinct role for Switzerland as a “Unesco Biosphere”. Connected with zones in France, Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic, these areas of Swiss landscape could contribute to the creation of a southern European park, a counterpart to the natural landscapes of the northern European states.
In the park-like areas of Switzerland the road and train crossings should be modeled more like the American park roads and the Canadian train crossings. The high-speed links should be constructed high over the valleys, turning the crossing into a spectacular event, both for the users and for the landscape. The highways should be transformed into scenic highways, with their transit function enlarged by tunnels and bridges. Exits should be minimized, emphasizing the separation of urban development from these areas. In the best wind locations of the Park Switzerland, for instance in the Jura Mountains, a competitive wind energy park can be created. It could generate not only energy for Switzerland but for the rest of Europe as well. If we apply the newest windmills at the proper locations then 34,650 wind turbines would generate 52,000 GWh/year covering 2,166km2 of the land. The wind park can be seen as a landscape protector as well: the density of windmills and associated environmental constraints would protect the landscape from urbanization. In higher regions and locations, solar panels could be easily positioned. The south side of some selected mountains could be clad with solar panels, creating huge solar parks. These installations could supply energy for the whole country and perhaps even Europe.