The Swiss environmentalist Franz Weber has died at the age of 91. The Basel activist was responsible for over 150 campaigns but is best known for his defence of the alpine landscape, in particular against the spread of secondary residences.
“The great lion has joined the stars. A pioneer, a visionary, he fought for more than 50 years to give a voice to those who did not have one,” his foundation said in a statementexternal link on Thursday. Weber died on Tuesday in the Swiss capital Bern.
“From seal hunting in Canada to the rescue of the Lavaux vineyards, the preservation of the Greek site of Delphi, the protection of the Danube alluvial forest in Austria and the rescue of the Grand Hotel Giessbach, wherever he has been involved, his influence has contributed to making the world a better place.”
Weber was one of the first Swiss environmentalists to use direct democracy intensively.
He launched numerous popular initiatives, including against the unrestricted construction of second homes – the 2012 national vote was perhaps his greatest victory – and also against the construction of buildings that are harmful to the environment or landscape, as well as against the noise of fighter planes in tourist areas.
He also launched an initiative to save Swiss forests, campaigned to have the Lavaux winegrowing region on Lake Geneva given UNESCO World Heritage status and helped rescue the historic Grand Hotel Giessbach above Lake Brienz in the Bernese Oberland. This summer, the hotel will host a public ceremony in his honour.