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European Rewilding Network

The Swiss National Park

Over 100 years of pure wilderness

The Val Cluozza is fully protected from any human activities except hiking since 1909.
Scenery of Swiss National Park.
The Swiss National Park team members.

In 2014 the Swiss National Park celebrated its 100 year existence. Established in 1914, its founding pioneers aimed to develop an entirely natural area, scientifically observed. After 100 years, the Swiss National Park is well established by locals and visitors to gain an insight into European wilderness. The aim of its founding members, pioneers in the protection of the natural environment, was to ensure that a piece of Switzerland’s mountain landscape be left to develop entirely naturally, and furthermore that any changes should be the subject of scientific observation and research. This experiment is recognised today as a highly important ‘field laboratory’ and an environmental protection icon. Extending over 170 km2, the Swiss National Park is the largest protected area in Switzerland and the country’s only National Park.

The National Park is well known for its extraordinary variety of alpine animals, such as chamois, deer and marmots. A host of alpine plants provide a colourful sight as visitors make their way through the Park. There is a wide choice of paths, with differing degrees of difficulty.

Project: The Swiss National Park
Region: Engadine, Grison, Switzerland
Type of protection: IUCN 1a
Habitat types: About a third of the National Park is covered by forest.
Typical mountain forests in the region consist of spruce, larch, cembra pine and mountain pine. Within the National Park the situation is a little different: due to clear cutting in former times, large areas of forest were demolished, and today the landscape is dominated by pioneer mountain pine forests, often referred to as the «Pass dal Fuorn» forests. Above, in the alpine meadow zone we find plants that favour the lower altitudes as well as arcto-alpine species that prefer the upper alpine zone. According to soil types, localised climate conditions, exposure and altitude, highly different mixtures of species, described as plant associations, develop in proximity. The composition of these associations is a dynamic process, within which an optimal equilibrium can develop between soil, climate and flora.
In the upper alpine zones the mighty forces of erosion are predominant. The sparse vegetation is unable to hold back the soil. Blocks of rock, broken up by the tremendous force of freezing water, crash down towards the valley floor, forming gigantic slopes of scree.
Fauna (mega) species present: Red deer (cervus elaphus), chamoix (rupicapra rupicapra), ibex (capra ibex)
Type of project: Increasing interest in the wild through communications, Supporting wildlife comeback
Aim and vision: The aims of the Park are threefold: to allow the unhindered development of nature without human interference; to research the ensuing natural processes; to inform visitors. Research and information are of course intrinsically linked to the overall aim of protection.
«The Swiss National Park remains also in its second century of existence a reserve in which nature is protected from any human interference, and in particular the entire fauna and flora are left to develop naturally.»
Other activities: Education, Research
Inspirational value: Establishing conservation areas and issues is a way to preserve nature for future generations, although only few of these initiatives have existed for long enough to witness more than a century. Key issues can be learned from these early projects that have been examples of success in sustainable protection, long-term political survival and effective management. The Swiss National Park is one of these early examples.
Experience you would like to share: scientific research
Experience you would like to gain: funding ideas/fundraising; (EU)regulations/legislation
Map
Country
Switzerland
Start year
1914
Size (ha)
17000
Area type
Mountainous
Natural process
Bark beetle, Natural grazing, Other
Flagship species
Red deer
The Swiss National Park
The Val Cluozza is fully protected from any human activities except hiking since 1909.
Scenery of Swiss National Park.
The Swiss National Park team members.

In 2014 the Swiss National Park celebrated its 100 year existence. Established in 1914, its founding pioneers aimed to develop an entirely natural area, scientifically observed. After 100 years, the Swiss National Park is well established by locals and visitors to gain an insight into European wilderness. The aim of its founding members, pioneers in the protection of the natural environment, was to ensure that a piece of Switzerland’s mountain landscape be left to develop entirely naturally, and furthermore that any changes should be the subject of scientific observation and research. This experiment is recognised today as a highly important ‘field laboratory’ and an environmental protection icon. Extending over 170 km2, the Swiss National Park is the largest protected area in Switzerland and the country’s only National Park.

The National Park is well known for its extraordinary variety of alpine animals, such as chamois, deer and marmots. A host of alpine plants provide a colourful sight as visitors make their way through the Park. There is a wide choice of paths, with differing degrees of difficulty.

Map
Country
Switzerland
Start year
1914
Size (ha)
17000
Area type
Mountainous
Natural process
Bark beetle, Natural grazing, Other
Flagship species
Red deer
Specification
Project: The Swiss National Park
Region: Engadine, Grison, Switzerland
Type of protection: IUCN 1a
Habitat types: About a third of the National Park is covered by forest.
Typical mountain forests in the region consist of spruce, larch, cembra pine and mountain pine. Within the National Park the situation is a little different: due to clear cutting in former times, large areas of forest were demolished, and today the landscape is dominated by pioneer mountain pine forests, often referred to as the «Pass dal Fuorn» forests. Above, in the alpine meadow zone we find plants that favour the lower altitudes as well as arcto-alpine species that prefer the upper alpine zone. According to soil types, localised climate conditions, exposure and altitude, highly different mixtures of species, described as plant associations, develop in proximity. The composition of these associations is a dynamic process, within which an optimal equilibrium can develop between soil, climate and flora.
In the upper alpine zones the mighty forces of erosion are predominant. The sparse vegetation is unable to hold back the soil. Blocks of rock, broken up by the tremendous force of freezing water, crash down towards the valley floor, forming gigantic slopes of scree.
Fauna (mega) species present: Red deer (cervus elaphus), chamoix (rupicapra rupicapra), ibex (capra ibex)
Description
Type of project: Increasing interest in the wild through communications, Supporting wildlife comeback
Aim and vision: The aims of the Park are threefold: to allow the unhindered development of nature without human interference; to research the ensuing natural processes; to inform visitors. Research and information are of course intrinsically linked to the overall aim of protection.
«The Swiss National Park remains also in its second century of existence a reserve in which nature is protected from any human interference, and in particular the entire fauna and flora are left to develop naturally.»
Other activities: Education, Research
Achievements
Exchange
Inspirational value: Establishing conservation areas and issues is a way to preserve nature for future generations, although only few of these initiatives have existed for long enough to witness more than a century. Key issues can be learned from these early projects that have been examples of success in sustainable protection, long-term political survival and effective management. The Swiss National Park is one of these early examples.
Experience you would like to share: scientific research
Experience you would like to gain: funding ideas/fundraising; (EU)regulations/legislation
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