Nature and landscape
Extensive natural spaces are also to be found within the airportʼs perimeter. Flughafen Zürich AG bears a great responsibility for protecting and preserving the ecological value of these areas as a habitat for animals and plants.
Zurich Airport was originally built in the 1940s in the middle of reed meadows. As a result, the airport site also includes extensive areas of high ecological value right between the runways. Of approximately 953 hectares in total, around half comprise green spaces. 53 hectares are designated nature conservation areas. The airport provides a varied mosaic of different habitats where rare plants and animals can thrive as the fence protects them from being disturbed.
Green spaces account for half the airportʼs surface area.
Prevention of bird strikes
With its wooded areas, watercourses and large open spaces, the airport also attracts a large number of bird species. However, large birds and flocking birds in particular can present a safety risk for aircraft. Collisions between birds and aircraft (known as bird strikes) can have serious consequences and so must be avoided at all costs.
Management of the green spaces is therefore designed to make the airfield less attractive to birds. Most of the open spaces are managed as extensively used high-grass meadows. This is both environmentally friendly and also helps to reduce the risk of bird strikes. The high grass makes it difficult for birds of prey to spot their prey on the ground and it also discourages flocking birds from settling there.
Specific steps have also been taken to reduce the birdsʼ food supply – for instance weasels are encouraged because they compete with birds of prey in hunting small mammals.
Preserving ecological value also requires action to protect green spaces from the impact of building projects. Flughafen Zürich AG is obliged to establish in advance the ecological value of green spaces on which it intends to build, and to offset this with measures of equal value. This can be done by upgrading areas elsewhere, such as in the “Hundig” area to the south of Glattfelden for example.