• Switzerland's news in English

Switzerland fetes 100 years for national park

Caroline Bishop · 31 Jul 2014, 09:51

Published: 31 Jul 2014 09:51 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A gourmet feast, musical concerts and a fireworks display will feature in the day-long programme of festivities on Friday, with the finale broadcast on Swiss television from 8pm.

Swiss environment Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard will deliver birthday greetings from the Confederation in an official ceremony at 3pm.

Speaking to The Local, Leuthard said: “How humankind should deal with natural resources is a constant source of debate. There are no easy solutions. This jubilee is an opportunity for us to reflect on what nature is worth to us.”

The Swiss National Park was created in 1914 by a group of environmental pioneers concerned about the increasing cultivation of Switzerland.

The park aimed to preserve a piece of Swiss alpine landscape to develop entirely naturally, free from human intervention.

Covering 170 square kilometres of the Upper Engadine in Graubünden, the park was the first in the Alps and provoked many other European countries to follow suit.

A hundred years later it remains Switzerland’s only national park, while France, Germany, Slovenia, Austria and Italy boast multiples.

The park is known for its abundance of alpine flora and fauna, including red deer, chamois, marmots and ibex.

To protect the natural environment, rules are strict. The park is only open in summer, when visitors coming to hike its 80km of trails are forbidden to camp, fish, hunt, stray off the marked paths, walk dogs or leave any mark on the landscape.

The area’s lack of human intervention has allowed researchers to reap the benefits.

“The importance of science and research in and around the National Park cannot be stressed enough,” Leuthard told The Local.

“In the past 100 years, research into flora, fauna and the development of habitats has brought us a wide range of valuable results. So the Swiss National Park demonstrates that nature conservation not only costs money, but also brings a financial return,” she said.

Zernez, which lies just outside the boundaries, is known as the gateway to the park and has been leading the centenary celebrations throughout 2014.

Its National Park Centre, an information centre explaining the park’s history and environmental aims, is currently hosting a special exhibition, while the centre has been ‘on tour’ over the past few months, exhibiting in branches of supermarket Coop all over Switzerland.

Two further areas of Switzerland are now under consideration to receive national park status – Locarnese in the canton of Ticino, and Adula, which covers valleys within Graubünden and Ticino.

The transition of these ‘candidate’ parks into fully established national parks will be aided by the Federal Office for the Environment.

Story continues below…

But the original Swiss National Park is likely to remain the only area with the highest level of protection, says Leuthard.

“There are clear differences. The Swiss National Park has a unique protected status. It is as well-protected from human intervention as it is possible to be," Leuthard told The Local.

“The new national parks currently being established also have a core zone, but the rules that apply are not quite so strict.

“This means that these national parks, like other parks of national importance, have additional objectives, such as boosting the local economy or furthering environmental education.” 

For more information about the Swiss National Park visit nationalpark.ch

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Caroline Bishop (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available