Global warming is leading to a “tuscanisation” of Switzerland’s landscape, the Swiss Foundation for the Protection and Management of Landscape (Sl-Fp) warned on Monday.
And the transformation could have major consequences on the country’s tourism industry.
The increasing number of heatwaves and dry periods over the past twenty years in Switzerland have already had a big impact on the landscape.
On Monday the foundation warned that as these episodes increase, the colour of the Swiss landscape will visibly change due to the reduction in the amount of water feeding the landscapes.
It warned that “the romantic ideal of a ‘green’ and water-rich Switzerland seems to be undergoing a lasting transformation”.
They dominant colour of green will be replaced by lighter shades of yellow and brown that are reminiscent of the dry landscapes of the Tuscan valleys, the foundation wrote in a press release.
It also warned that at higher levels the retreat of glaciers and drop in the volume of water means the moraines high up in the mountains will vegetate at a much slower rate, meaning the Swiss mountains will be less green.
Natural streams and waterfalls are also drying up, a situation seen in Italy, in the Piedmontese and Ligurian Alps, notes the foundation.
According to the foundation, increasing water loss and warmer temperatures have an impact on biodiversity and reduce landscape variety.
The changing landscape will also reduces the recreational value of the mountains and therefore hit the tourism industry hard, it warned.
A 2014 report by scientists that looked at the tangible ways the climate crisis will change Switzerland said that whilst melting glaciers was the most talked about change there are other ways the country will be affected.
“Agriculture will face increased heat stress for livestock, and tree species distribution will change. The tourist industry will have to cope with shorter ski seasons and the urban population will be exposed to more heat days,” the report said.