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© Oliver Ritz
© Oliver Ritz
 

Binntal Nature Park– Regional Nature Park since 2011

Strong roots. Hidden treasures. Binntal Nature Park is a Regional Nature Park of National Importance. It lies in Upper Valais and encompasses the six villages of Binn, Ernen, Grengiols, Bister, Niederwald and Blitzingen. The park's main aims are to preserve the beauty of the area, promote the local economy, educate the public and raise awareness about the park.

Commune

Area (km2)

Population

Binn 65.03 145
Bister 5.84 33
Blitzingen (Gemeinde Goms) 11.81 80
Ernen 35.38 530
Grengiols 58.46 446
Niederwald (Gemeinde Goms) 4.68 45
Total 181.20 1279

HISTORY

The local people decided to turn their valley into a conservation area as far back in 1964, at a time when very few people talked about protecting the environment. Since 1977 an area of around 51 km2 of the Binntal has been listed in the Federal Inventory of Landscapes and Natural Monuments of National Importance. In 2002 the villages of Binn, Ernen and Grengiols launched a project to set up a nature park, and seven years later the villages of Bister, Blitzingen and Niederwald joined in with their support. The result was the creation of the Binntal Nature Park, which received the federal Regional Nature Park label in 2011.

FAMOUS FOR RARE MINERALS

The Binntal is particularly well known for its minerals. No other area in the Alps is so rich in semi-precious stones. 270 types have been found so far, around 130 of which were discovered in the Lengenbach mineral quarry, a very important site internationally and one where minerals are still mined. More than a dozen of the minerals are found exclusively in the Binntal.
The park is also famous for the richness of its flora. For example, the rare Valais stock and the ladies' slipper orchid can be found flowering in the Twingi Gorge, on the Breithorn Edelweiss and many other alpine flowers are abundant, and in late May the meadows around Grengiols are covered in the Grengjer tulip, a wild variety found exclusively in this location.

Foto: © Michael Praeger, Anatas, Bildbreite: 6,5 mm

SITES OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE

Binntal Nature Park has a valuable cultural landscape which is worthy of protection. The villages and hamlets with their sun-tanned houses are so well preserved that they are classified as sites of national and regional importance. The hamlet of Mühlebach houses the oldest village centre with timber structures in Switzerland. The village of Ernen, which is transformed each summer into a venue for world-class classical concerts, was awarded the Wakker Prize in 1979. An ancient transport route runs through Binntal Nature Park from Grengiols and Binn via the Albrun Pass to the neighbouring Parco Naturale Alpe Veglia e Alpe Devero in Italy. The park also offers many culinary delights in the numerous excellent restaurants to which it is home.

HIKING AND SKI TOUR PARADISE

There are no large tourist destinations in Binntal Nature Park, but the whole area offers a wealth of cultural landscapes still maintained with much effort and care today. Countless kilometres of marked hiking trails invite you to explore the area on foot. In winter you can enjoy the snow-covered landscape on beautifully prepared winter hiking and snowshoe trails or on touring skis. The park area is also an ideal starting point for the cross-country skiing trails in Goms and for the popular Aletsch Arena and Bellwald ski resorts.

Foto: © lorenzfischer.photo

DEVELOPING THE LOCAL ECONOMY

Binntal Nature Park's two main aims are to preserve the beauty of the area and promote the local economy. The local councils and the local people see the park as an opportunity to strengthen the regional economy, developing new offerings such as soft tourism, cultural tourism, and local agricultural products in order to encourage inhabitants to remain in the area.

MILESTONES

1964 The commune of Binn, the Valais Bund für Naturschutz (now Pro Natura Wallis) and the Monte Rosa section of the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) sign a 100-year agreement to protect 46.5 km2 of the Binntal (banning the use of hydropower and construction of tourist infrastructures; decision taken at the communal assembly of 17 September 1964).
1977 The upper Binntal (5090 ha) is listed in the Federal Inventory of Landscapes and Natural Monuments.
1999 The Albrun, Oxefeld and Blatt moorland areas are designated conservation areas by the Canton of Valais.
2002 The communes of Binn, Ernen and Grengiols launch a project for a nature park (160 km2).
2007 The federal parliament passes legislation to create new parks in Switzerland. Nine articles in the Federal Act on the Protection of Nature and Cultural Heritage (NCHA) are now devoted to parks of national importance. The Ordinance on Parks of National Importance regulates the provisions of the NCHA in detail.
2008 Confederation and canton recognise the Binntal Nature Park as a Regional Nature Park of National Importance (establishment phase).
2009 The park perimeter is extended to include the three communes of Blitzingen, Niederwald and Bister. The park now covers an area of 180 km2.
2011 Binntal Nature Park definitively receives the Regional Nature Park of National Importance label.
2012 Binntal Nature Park begins a ten-year pilot period.
2021 After ten years, stock will be taken and a decision made about continuing to operate the park.
 
 

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