The Swiss-Italian Nature Park Binntal Veglia Devero

Picture by Mauro Conti

Binntal Veglia Devero Nature Parks consists of the Alpe Veglia and Alpe Devero Natural Park in Italy and the Landschaftspark Binntal in Switzerland, both located in the Lepontine Alps. This natural environment is dominated by rocks, glaciers and mountains reaching some 3.500 meters a.s.l., alpine lands, pastures, peat bogs and mowing meadows. A first official agreement on transboundary cooperation between the two parks dates back from 2013, but contacts and exchange of people from both sides of the alpine range across the Arbola/Albrun pass goes back to more than 3000 years ago.

The Binntal Veglia Devero Transboundary Nature Park embraces the following Protected Areas:

  • Parco Naturale Veglia Devero / Protected Areas of Ossola, Region of Piedmont, Italy
  • Landschaftspark Binntal, Canton of Valais, Switzerland

Natural heritage

The region Binntal-Alpe Devero is known for its richness and diversity of minerals. So far, over 270 different minerals have been identified in the area, of which more than two dozen are typical only of this restricted area. Some have been named from the region such as Binnite or Cervandonite.

Plants of amazing and unprecedented variety grow everywhere: in alpine and valley meadows, in grasslands and bogs, in exploited and fallow lands. The reason for this variety relies on the different exposures and forms of agriculture as well as on the geological substrate.

In the area we find the most emblematic mammal species of the Alps: ibex and chamois, which regularly cross the high mountain range. A recent monitoring activity shows that even red deers migrate through the Albrun/Arbola pass (2408 meters a.s.l.). The species lists of birds, butterflies and other animals are also very rich.

Picture by Mauro Conti

History of the Parks

In 1978 the Italian “Alpe Veglia Nature Park” was designated by regional law. It was the first nature park in the region of Piedmont. In 1995 the park was enlarged, involving also the Alpe Devero area. The two areas are since then known as Veglia Devero Natural Park: some 8600 hectares of breathtaking landscapes and delicate balances between nature and human activities. The Veglia Devero Natural Park is also recognized as Natura 2000 site and is, therefore, part of the vast and widespread European ecological network known as Natura 2000 Network. Since 2009, the Ossola Protected Areas Management Body runs the Veglia Devero Natural Park as well as the Antron Valley Natural Park, a recently born protected area in the Ossola territory. The Veglia Devero Natural Parks is involved in various projects, ranging from sustainable tourism to nature conservation, from social innovation in mountain areas to natural resources management and planning.

The Landschaftspark Binntal (18200 ha) was recognised by the Swiss Government as “Nature Park of national importance” in 2011. The first treaty to protect nature and landscape dates back from 1964 and was accepted on a vote by the population.
Apart from the nearly untouched high mountain zone that covers half of the territory, the Binntal Nature Park has a valuable cultural landscape, which is still maintained with much effort and care also during the present days. The villages and hamlets with their sun-tanned houses are so well preserved that they are classified as sites of national and regional importance.
The park’s main aims are to preserve the beauty of the area, promote the local economy, educate the public and raise awareness about the park. The local councils and the local new offerings such as soft tourism, cultural tourism, and local agricultural products help encourage inhabitants to remain in the area.

Transboundary Cooperation

After seven years of a wide range of common activities, the two nature parks decided to formalize their cooperation. A formal agreement was elaborated and signed by the presidents of the boards and the directors on 27th May 2013.

Milestones of the cooperation

2006 first “incontro dei parchi” (Parks annual meeting) in Ernen/Switzerland. Since then organisation of the “annual parks meeting” each and every year.

2006 first common activities: support of the publication of 3 different maps of the transboundary area (Itineracarta, Rotten-Verlag, Baceno-Binn); joint participation in the local markets of Baceno and Ernen; ,

2007-2013: Interreg Project ENVITOUR: among other activities: activation and cross-border consolidation of exchanges of experience between protected areas; creation of “Lingua natura”, an offer combining the learning of a language and the discovery of the natural and cultural heritage of both parks on the Swiss and Italian sides.

2007: Publication of the first common brochure “Alpe Veglia – Alpe Devero – Binntal” in four languages, hiking map, public transport and hospitality (hotels, restaurants, mountain huts, camping),

2007/08: Further mutual education for Swiss hiking guides in the Italian park and for Italian guides in the Swiss park

2013: formal agreement on cooperation between the two nature parks and implementing a coordination body “the group”, with 3-4 meeting a year (minutes in Italian language)

2015: publication of the book “Binntal Veglia Devero – Naturparkwandern ohne Grenzen” by Andreas Weissen,

2016: Common study and reflection about the potential of a geopark (feasibility study)

2016: First participation of a mixed team in the pan-alpine ranger competition “Danilo Re Memorial”, organized by Alparc

2017: Joint submission of the MINERALP project proposal under the Interreg Italy Switzerland Programme

2018: Application and submission of the proposal to join the EUROPARC Transboundary Parks Programme

2019: Certification of the “Binntal Veglia Devero Nature Transboundary Park” by EUROPARC on September 27th in Jurmala, Latvia.

Concrete results of cooperation to date

Annual meetings (“Incontro annuae dei parchi”) since 2006;

Agreement on cooperation from 2013, establishing a formal framework of our cooperation;

Events and activities: e.g. bi-lingual excursion on alpine cheese, bi-lingual hiking tour across the Arbola/Albrun pass (“Camminata”), promotion of local products;

Promotion material, especially the common maps and the four-lingual brochure (5 editions since 2007)

Interreg project ENVITOUR  2007-2013 (promotion material, exchange and further formation of achievers)

Studies on archaeological heritage, feasibility of a geopark

Future transnational cooperation work

Continuation and adaptation of shared annual agenda of events

Joint development of the Interreg IT-CH project MINERALP

Promote common monitoring and research initiatives

Promote mutual exchange of cultural values