UNESCO World Heritage Site
Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn – the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Alps
The majestic mountain backdrop of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, the Great Aletsch Glacier together with the spectacular Aletsch Forest of ancient larches and Swiss stone pines, the old cultural landscapes of the Baltschiedertal valley and the Walliser Felsensteppe steppe surrounding the Bietschhorn mountain all add up to a diverse and beautiful setting.
And that’s why the UNESCO World Heritage Committee voted to add the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn region to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites on 13 December 2001. This date marks the moment at which an innovative idea came to life, after many people had boldly shown real commitment and dedication over the years to make it happen.
It was all based on an application submitted to UNESCO by the Swiss Federal Council on 28 June 2000, requesting for the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn region to be added to the list of World Heritage Sites. The time leading up to the submission of this application had seen in-depth discussions with the people and relevant communities in the cantons of Valais and Bern to determine the perimeter of the future World Heritage Site.
The Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn region is incredibly beautiful and boasts countless relics from past ice ages in the form of glaciers and moraines. Thanks to succession and forest dynamics in the forests that lie ahead of the glaciers, it also holds fascinating examples of ecological processes. The combination of Mediterranean-style mountain steppe regions, cultural landscapes dating back centuries and high-Alpine ecosystems explains the biodiversity.
To this day, the region is still home to many rare species of plants and animals. Looking ahead to the future, it could be the habitat of extinct or eradicated species, such as the bearded vulture. The peaceful coexistence between man and nature would boost tourism, transforming nature conservation into a way of creating new opportunities for people living in this region.
Lukas Kalbermatten is proud to be amongst the first people in the region to have recognised the value of the landscape and been part of the initiative committee that worked towards achieving this title. He was a Board Member for several years and is now a World Heritage Ambassador.