In Switzerland, besides the Swiss National Park with its own legislation, there are three different categories of nature parks: national parks, regional nature parks and nature discovery parks. The legal foundation for these three park categories was created with the partial revision of the Nature and Cultural Heritage Protection Act of 2007.
In addition to the Swiss National Park, there are three other parks in the canton of Graubünden, the Biosfera Val Müstair, the Beverin Nature Park and the Parc Ela. The canton of Graubünden also has a share of the UNESCO World Heritage Tectonic Arena Sardona (crossing the cantons GR / SG / GL). Furthermore, the Swiss National Park, the Biosfera Val Müstair regional nature park and parts of the municipality of Scuol form the first high alpine UNESCO biosphere reserve in Switzerland.
The Swiss National Park (SNP) was founded in 1914 in Engadin and Val Müstair as the first national park in central Europe. It is a wilderness area with a core zone of 170 km², in which all living creatures and natural processes are strictly protected. The intent and purpose of the SNP is regulated by a separate Federal Act. In addition to nature conservation, scientific research and public awareness are among the core objectives.
The perimeters of the regional nature parks are located in rural and partially populated areas. Regional natural parks are committed to preserving and enhancing existing natural and cultural values and striving for sustainable regional development. A regional nature park is built on existing legal foundations and thus does not lead to new regulations, laws or zoning. In the canton of Graubünden, the regional nature parks are Parc Ela, Beverin Nature Park and the Biosfera Val Müstair.
A regional nature park is recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve if additional criteria are met. These include zoning the region into a core area, a buffer zone and a transition zone, as well as biogeographical representativeness of the region and the carrying out of research projects. They fulfil a protective function for the conservation of genetic resources, animal and plant species, ecosystems and landscapes; promote sustainable development and have a focus on research as well as education for sustainable development. The Biosfera Val Müstair regional nature park, the Swiss National Park and parts of the municipality of Scuol form the UNESCO Biosfera Engiadina Val Müstair.
In addition to the various parks and UNESCO biosphere reserves, there are also UNESCO world heritage sites. The aim of UNESCO is to preserve cultural and natural resources with exceptional universal value. These include, for example, ecosystems, evidence of evolutionary history, natural paradises or conservation reserves for animals and plants which are threatened with extinction. In addition to the UNESCO world heritage Jungfrau Aletsch and Monte San Giorgio, the Tectonic Arena Sardona, located partly in the Canton of Graubünden, is one of the Swiss natural world heritage sites.