New Wilderness in Switzerland

Val Cama-Val Leggia is one of the largest forest reserve in Switzerland. This area has the potential to become the first European Wilderness in Switzerland.

The area is located in the Misox valley, in the south of Graubünden (Switzerland). The land owner and the forest authority of the canton agreed on the protection of this reserve.  They signed a contract to secure the protection.

The area spans from 450 m above sea level up to the tree line of 2300 m and the size extends 1,600 hectares. An important part of this reserve is: that the man can observe what nature does when he doesn’t intervene. This concept very much reminds us of the core principles of the European Wilderness.

We had hoped for several years that the Val Cama-Val Leggia could become not only a largest forest reserve in Switzerland, but also a potential member of the European Wilderness Network.

said Vlado Vancura, Deputy Chairman, European Wilderness Society.

Several committed individuals and Wilderness advocates, created this forest reserve, due to their respect for wild nature. One of them is Antonio Spadini, mayor of village Verdabbio and convinced advocate of the forest reserve Val Cama-Val Leggia. His attitude is well expressed in the following statement:

The Misox is a beautiful valley, which we have to take care of. We are responsible to leave it intact for the next generations.

The regional forestry engineer Luca Plozza shares a similar opinion. These two men worked as a team for years for the creation of the forest reserve Val Cama-Val Leggia and they finished their work with a great success. Partners of the project, such as citizens of the relevant communities, local government, organisations Pro Natura and Pro Natura Graubünden, agreed to create this forest reserve. The landowners, municipalities and citizen communities from the surrounding villages Leggia and Verdabbio followed the similar process later on.

What we have learnt during this process is an important lesson, which can be used also in the other areas.

said Luca Plozza, local forest engineer.

Contract for forest reserve

The clear content of the contract helped not only to formulate the legal conditions of the contract, but also envisaged the future of this agreement. In 2006, the municipal assemblies of villages Cama, Leggia and Verdabbio approved the borders of the forest reserve. On October 19, 2007, the parties signed the contract which entered into the force on January 1, 2008. On August 26, 2016, the forest reserve was extended to the neighbouring valley Val Grono.

Key words used during negotiation

The negotiation was long and demanding, but the participants achieved an agreement to divide the forest reserve into 2 zones:

  • Natural Forest Reserve – the area with complete abandonment of forestry and agricultural use
  • Special Forest Reserve – the area with the low level of forestry intervention to maintain the current state

Pro Natura involvement

The Non-profit organization Pro Natura played an important role during negotiation and identification of the boundary. Critically important was the negotiation regarding compensating the landowners for the loss of their income. With the Hauser Foundation’s contribution, Pro Natura collected 370,000 CHF. Participants of the contract used these resources to a large extent in the landscape development concept of the Val Cama.

For more information read here: Where the forest may be a forest!

Wo der Wald ganz Wald sein darf

Vlado Vancura

Vlado Vancura is the Deputy Chairman and Director of wilderness of the European Wilderness Society and is based in Liptovsky Hradok, Slovakia.

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