The project to establish a second national park in Switzerland is attracting increasing interest. Three more regions have stepped forward, bringing the total number of candidacies received by the environmental Pro Natura organisation to six.
The Matterhorn and Muveran regions in canton Valais, as well the Maderanertal in canton Uri, have expressed their interest in the project, which includes SFr1 million in financial aid.
The three other areas - the Bagnes valley in canton Valais, the Locarnese in canton Ticino and the Adula/Rheinwaldhorn area between Ticino and canton Graubünden - are already being scrutinised by Pro Natura.
Preliminary studies will be carried out in all the regions. The organisation, hoping to establish the park for its 100th anniversary in 2009, had set the end of this year as the deadline for candidates to come forward.
Pro Natura, which was originally set up to promote the creation of Switzerland's first national park near Zernez in canton Graubünden, has set out strict guidelines for the new park.
The local population has to agree to its presence and it must include a central 100 square kilometre zone entirely set aside for nature.
Two of the three new candidates have strong claims to hosting the park.
The Matterhorn area includes what is perhaps Switzerland's best-known landmark, well-preserved local buildings, and rare species of farm animals.
The Muveran region in Valais, which spreads into canton Vaud, contains the Derborence natural reserve. It comprises mostly primeval forest, made famous by the Swiss author, Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz.
The Maderanertal candidacy is off to a rockier start. Part of the local population is already against the idea and the cantonal government has decided to launch its own feasibility study.
swissinfo with agencies
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