In this study, regions for herb production in the alpine region are identified, where biophysical conditions are suitable for many different medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs).
Regarding green infrastructure, MAP production is taking place on arable land including temporary grassland/meadows. MAPs will not increase the amount of semi-natural areas but only improve their quality by bringing in a more diverse agricultural production with fewer pesticide treatments. This is especially true for flowering plants. They offer nectar and pollen to insects at different periods of the year and hence have the potential to reduce seasonal habitat fragmentation. However, some aromatic herbs are harvested before they flower and, therefore, do not improve ecosystem services.
The emergence of MAPs in Switzerland was influenced by research and the demand for MAPs from the food sector. Especially in the mountainous area, a complex governance structure was developed that coordinates the market and negotiates prices. These governance structures play an essential role in making MAP production a viable activity.