Prizes awarded for maintaining mountain heritage
Projects aimed at developing trade, environmentally sound tourism and agriculture have been awarded this year's prize by an association to promote the heritage of mountain regions (SAB).
The main prize, worth SFr12,000, was shared three ways: by a project in Göschenen, in central Switzerland, a project in the French-speaking part of the country and an inter-regional programme with close links to other countries in Europe.
One project, called "Göschenen, a future for man and mountain", in the Gotthard region aims to promote local produce, such as dairy products, and green tourism. The panel awarding the prize praised the scheme as a model for sustainable development and cooperation between local and regional organisations.
The mayor of Göschenen, Peter Hirzel, told swissinfo he appreciated the prize as a recognition of their efforts. He said he hoped it would help win over more local people to the project. He said his vision was to get the region of Göschenen to become part of a second national park in Switzerland.
Another award winner was an inter-regional association, called Atelier, which promotes the sale of sheep wool and goat fleece. The association was founded in France the late 1980s to respond to the crisis in the wool industry across Europe.
The panel, chaired by a member of parliament, Theo Maissen, pointed out the importance of the self-help aspect of the project. It seeks to establish close ties between sheep farmers and wool producers in rural areas across Europe, including Switzerland.
The panel jury said the project helped find new markets for an old trade, and strengthened the cultural identity of the mountain regions.
The third main winner was a project in the Joux valley in canton Vaud, near the border with France. The local authorities in Le Chenit are building a technology park for small and medium-sized businesses. The commune hopes to preserve jobs in the timber industry and agriculture.
Two other prizes went to a rural area in a nearby region in canton Vaud. The promoters are trying to find ways to market their agricultural products under a specially-registered label.
A prize also went to a journalist, Wilfried Richter, who launched a special newsletter on issues dealing with various aspects of life in the Alps.
The awards, sponsored by the local authorities in St Moritz, Saanen and Sion, will be handed over next month.
swissinfo with agencies
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