Nature and landscape

Extensive natural spaces are also to be found within the airport’s 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.

Valuable habitats

When Zurich Airport was originally planned in the 1940s, it was sited in the middle of reed meadows. As a result, the airport perimeter still encloses extensive areas of high ecological value, even right between the runways in some cases. This creates a varied mosaic of different habitats where rare plants and animals can thrive as the fence protects them from being disturbed.

Of approximately 953 hectares in total, around half comprise green spaces. 53 hectares are designated nature conservation areas.

53 ha

53 ha of the total airport site of 953 ha comprise designated nature conservation areas.

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 birds’ food supply – for instance weasels are encouraged because as mousers they compete with birds of prey in hunting small mammals.

Environmental compensation

Preserving the ecological value of natural spaces also requires action to protect these green spaces from the impact of building projects. Flughafen Zürich AG is obliged to establish in advance the ecological value of the green spaces that it intends to build on and to offset this with measures of equivalent value. This can be done by upgrading areas elsewhere, for example during the reporting year two existing nature conservation areas were upgraded to compensate for the green areas on which THE CIRCLE was built.