With the entry into force of the new Swiss Federal Law on Forests on the 1st of January 1993, the basis of decision-making for the Federal Supreme Court concerning forestry issues has, at least formally, fundamentally changed. This article depicts the development of the Federal Supreme Court's jurisdiction during 2000–2008 concerning the legislation on forests. The analysis of about 100 decisions reveals that the federal jurisdiction has, with regard to contents, barely changed in comparison to that of the federal law on supervision of the forest police of 1902. The most frequent causes of dispute are assessments of forest status, authorizations for deforestation, and forest distance regulations. The Federal Supreme Court merely refined the jurisdiction; it did not, or did not need to disclose fundamentally new lines [benchmarks]. It rather adheres to the restrictive definition of forest and the strict conservation of forests, while the cantons do not dispose of a large scope for the deforestation jurisdiction or the definition of the term “forest”. The Federal Supreme Court grants the cantons more freedom to regulate and implement the forest distance. Obvious changes can be observed concerning the number of forest law cases that have been dealt with by the Federal Supreme Court. Compared to the 1980ies and early 1990ies, they have decreased by more than half. Among others, reasons for this decrease are the cantons' obligation to appoint courts only as last cantonal resort, the improvement of the formal and material coordination of the proceedings, and the introduction of the “static forest term” with respect to building zones in the sense of the federal law on area planning.

This content is only available as a PDF.