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Helping the mountain forest

Forests cover about a third of Switzerland's landmass

(Keystone)

The privately funded Mountain Forest Project is looking for volunteers to help conserve fragile eco-systems in the Alps.

Since 1987, about 10,000 volunteers have donated a week of their holidays to work in reforestation and conservation projects. No special skills or knowledge are necessary, and everyone over 18 years of age can sign up.

Special attention is being given this year to the world's mountain environments since the United Nations has declared 2002 "International Year of Mountains".

The main sponsors of Mountain Forest Project are the environmental organisations, Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature, and projects are carried out throughout the Swiss, German and Austrian Alps.

The next weeklong project in Switzerland begins on June 23 in the mountains above Chur, the capital of the eastern canton of Graubünden.

Volunteers will do conservation work and build trails in a forest which acts as a natural barrier against avalanches and landslides. They will be led by foresters who will also teach them about the endangered ecosystem and how it works.

Accommodation, tents in this case, is provided by Mountain Forest Project, which also takes care of the meals and accident insurance.

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