To identify representative quantitative criteria for the creation of a future Red List of epiphytic lichens, 849 trees in 132 long-term ecological observation plots in the Swiss Central Plateau and the Pre-Alps were surveyed by standard sampling. Based on the trees, frequency data of the lichen taxa observed are described by the log series model, indicating the controlling effect of few ecological factors. Based on the plots, four classes of scarcity, each comprising 25% of the species, were established. As a contribution to the development of a national, representative survey of lichens, α-diversity (species richness, species density) and β-diversity (dissimilarity) were calculated in terms of region, vegetation formation, vegetation belt and for their combinations. Differences in lichen diversity between the Central Plateau and the Pre-Alps were caused by the bigger elevational range in the Pre-Alps, which resulted in a higher species richness. α-Diversity of forest and non-forest were similar, whereas each vegetation formation showed one third of its species restricted to it. The contributions to the total lichen diversity of crustose, foliose and fruticose as well as of generative and vegetative species was calculated. Specific features along the altitudinal gradient of vegetation belts emerged: the percentage of crustose and generative lichens declined with every altitudinal step, increased in fruticose and vegetative lichens, and was the same in foliose species.