Alpine Ecosystem Services - mapping, maintenance, management


The Principality of Liechtenstein is located between Switzerland and Austria in the centre of the Alpine arc. With a total area of only 160 km2, it is the fourth smallest country in Europe. The whole country spans a distance of 24.8 km in length and 12.4 km in width. The altitudinal vegetation zones range from the valley floor at 430 m to the alpine zones at 2599 metres above sea level. Such a steep altitudinal range in such a small country results in a large variety of ecosystems as well as a rich faunal and floral diversity. However, due to population growth and related land use, the country’s biodiversity is under pressure. Within the country we have selected three different ecosystem types to assess in more detail within the AlpES project, in particular with regard to the assessment and mapping of ecosystem services.

Ruggeller Riet, which covers an area of ca. 100 ha, is Liechtenstein’s largest Nature Reserve located in the northernmost region of the country. This biodiversity rich habitat is formed by a complex of lowland wet meadows underlain by up to nine metres of peat.

Of the total 160 km2 of the country, 66 km2 (i.e. 41%) are covered in wooded areas, mostly located above 1000 metres above sea level and on slopes (40%). As a result, protection forests play a significant role in mitigating or preventing impacts from e.g. avalanches or erosion. We plan to assess three types of protection forest near Malbun, in the southern part of the country.

The Alpine Rhine, forming 27 km of Liechtenstein’s western border with Switzerland, is the country’s most important river. The Binnenkanal canal, as well as the Spiersbach and Samina rivers transport excess water away from the country. The Binnenkanal forms the largest drainage area with 117 km2. We plan to assess the qualitative and quantitative value of renaturalisation of the Binnenkanal in terms of ecosystem services provided, including flood protection.

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