Change Management


Case Study "Stotzigwald"

The protective function of the "Stotzigwald" is no longer assured: critical geological conditions and lacking regrowth destabilise the forest system (Source: J. Heeb).

Rock fall threatens trans-alpine transportation infrastructure near Gurtnellen, Switzerland (Source: J. Heeb).

Presented in the following is a successful real world example of Systemic Landscape Development and the products and cooperation that arose out of it: Platform "Stotzigwald" Uri.

In the year 2002, within the framework of the project "Forest and Game Animal Management in Canton Uri" run by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research as part of its National Research Program 48 (NFP 48 'Landscapes and Habitats of the Alps'), a regional stakeholder platform was established to find sustainable solutions for forest and game animal management in the buffer forest "Stotzigwald" near Gurtnellen, whose protective function was being jeopardized by a lack of regrowth caused by game animals browsing on and damaging the young trees.

The "Stotzigwald" near Gurtnellen protects the Gotthard-Motorway A2, the cantonal main road and the Swiss Federal Railway line from rock fall, erosion and avalanches. A lack of regrowth, particularly of the Silver Fir, is progressively weakening this protective function of the forest to the extent that it requires shoring up with built structures. The young trees are subjected to high grazing pressure from chamois that overwinter in the Stotzig Forest.

Damage or impact from game animals was already noticeable in the "Stotzigwald" near Gurtnellen in the past. This forest was previously part of the Federal Hunting Exclusion Zone Fellital. The chamois living at the foot of the Bristenstock, but also those from the nearby Fellital area, found relatively safe winter habitats within the "Stotzigwald". In addition, since 30 years a large herd of sheep is regularly driven up onto the open pastures on the western flank at the foot of the Bristenstock. It is thought that this competitive situation pushes the chamois more into the lower lying forest areas below. The problem became worse when the motorway A2 was built in the late 60's, reducing the size of the forest area and making movement of game animals to the other side of the valley more difficult.

Past measures to improve the protective function of the buffer forest, such as the "Silviculture Project Stotzigwald" or the culling of chamois and deer, have so far not produced satisfactory results. It has been recognised that sectoral interventions cannot solve the forest/game animal problem situation; nevertheless uncertainty and disagreement continued to prevail about how to go on in dealing with this problem.

Through this problem situation in the "Stotzigwald", representatives of a large number of regional and trans-regional interest groups crossed paths, some as land users in this mountain landscape, others having the ability to influence hoofed animal numbers or silviculture practices in the area, or being dependant on the protection provided by this buffer forest. Amongst the most important interest groups in this action system 'Stotzigwald' are landowners, farmers and forestry people, hunters and gamekeepers, conservationists, tourism operators, government offices on local and cantonal levels, as well as researchers.

Platform "Stotzigwald" Uri was formed in 2002 after a preparatory phase in which a central group formulated broad objectives and goals for the platform and contacted the platform partners. All interest groups within the action system "Stotzigwald" were represented in the platform. It was based through its membership both on a regional as well as on a cantonal level.

The platform did not adopt a legal form. It was a structured and organised network, in which the participating individuals and organisations could:

  • Cooperatively work out ideas about the future development of the "Stotzigwald"
  • Maintain and promote open and effective communication
  • Develop tangible project ideas
  • Jointly reflect on the development processes.

Since its formation the platform progressed from an extremely diverse group characterised by differing interests, to a team with mutual goals and ideas for action.

Stakeholders participating in the Platform "Stotzigwald" Uri discuss their jointly created development plan (Source: J. Heeb).

The main aims of the platform were:

  • Cooperative investigation and solution of an existing land use conflict
  • A sustainable improvement in the habitat value and protective function of the "Stotzigwald"
  • Development of suitable procedures and mechanisms for customised management of the forest and game animal situation, taking into account current research results.
  • Promotion of communication between researchers and stakeholders in the forest/game animal conflict situation.

To be able to develop a mutual conceptual model, the participants of Platform "Stotzigwald" Uri used model moderation to form a mutual understanding about the reasons for, and the cause and effect relationships in the buffer forest problem situation. On the basis of a development map, which brought together the mental models of the different stakeholders, the participants established development goals, and also benchmarks for later evaluation of development measures.

Development Map elaborated in participation with all Stakeholders (Source: J. HEEB). Click on the image to enlarge it.

Measures for the future development of the "Stotzigwald" in its natural, economic and protective functions were worked out in theme based work groups. The measures were assessed and prioritised by the platform and evaluated during a site visit as to their relevance and feasibility. In this way the Platform 'Stotzigwald' Uri succeeded in overcoming a sectoral way of thinking and working, in undertaking cost-benefit analysis in the trans-sectoral context of the "Stotzigwald", and in adopting a development concept that was acceptable to and supported by all participants. The platform's development measures encompass four areas:

  • Public relations
  • Silviculture
  • Hunting and habitat enclosures
  • Agriculture

The Systemic Landscape Development approach was successful in reconciling the interests of all the various stakeholders and in combining development measures into an overall concept while retaining their original intention. Without such a participatory process, individual interest groups would have contested these measures. Implementation of the measures was started in the year 2005.

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Further Readings & Links

HINDENLANG et al. (2002)
New ways in forest and game animal management (in German). The case study "Stotzigwald".