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Time is still left to correct damage in Europe's alpine arc

Not such an idyllic image in the Alps. Oswald Baumeister

A photographic exhibition in Berne entitled "Brave New Alps" shows that Europe's alpine arc still has a viable future provided that people start thinking more in terms of sustainable use and development.

This content was published on September 5, 2000 - 08:24

The tone of the exhibition at the Alpine Museum is set at the outset with a quote at the entrance by the futurist Robert Jungk. It says in part: "I believe we live in an epoch of the still possible. It is still possible to try other things. It is still possible to do something about disastrous development."

The exhibition uses the photographs to contrast the idyllic image of the Alps many people have as a region of solitude, raw beauty and untouched nature, with the reality - in many cases a nightmare of rampant development.

The title "Brave New Alps" is a deliberate allusion to Aldous Huxley's novel "Brave New World".

The director of the Alpine Museum, Urs Kneubühl, said there were parallels between the world of conforming thought and action portrayed in Huxley's book and the kind of destructive conformity that exists in the Alps today where people expect the same kinds of sports activities, the same kind of food and the same kind of lodging that they can have anywhere.

Major corrections are needed, added Kneubühl: "First, mountain populations have to be able to decide on what happens in their areas and the decisions should not come from outside. Second, the outside users of the Alps should respect and have an interest in the Alps and not only go there for fun."

Kneubühl said the idea is not to stop development but to control it and to develop other forms of tourism which are more adapted to the environment and to the needs of the local people.

by Paul Sufrin

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