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Swiss glacier moves step closer to receiving World Heritage status

The Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains are all part of the region which may become a World Heritage site

(Keystone Archive)

A delegation from the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has concluded a two-day fact finding mission in Switzerland to determine whether the Aletsch glacier, the largest in the Alps, should be included on the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO) list of World Heritage Sites.

Representatives of the IUCN will report their findings to the UNESCO committee, who are due to make a final decision on whether to include the glacier on its list by December.

During their visit, delegates investigated the value and beauty of the region's countryside, which are considered by UNESCO to be two of the most important criteria in deciding whether to include a site on its list.

Swiss officials in charge of the region's application took note of a criticism levelled by experts visiting the region. If Switzerland wanted to boost its chances of success, delegates said, it was important that a management plan for the region be established.

Such a plan would indicate to UNESCO that Switzerland was serious about protecting the region, representatives from the IUCN said.

Officials took note of the remark and said they would endeavour to put the idea into practice.

The proposed region covers around 540 square kilometres, most of it in canton Vaud with the remainder in canton Bern. The region, which includes three of Switzerland's most famous peaks, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, would be the first natural site in the Alps included on the UNESCO list.

If successful, the Aletsch region would join the likes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and the United States' Grand Canyon on the list.

Switzerland currently has four world heritage sites - the Benedictine convent of St John in Mustair, the St Gallen convent, the castles of Bellinzona and the old city of Bern.

swissinfo with agencies


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