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CIPRA embarks on a long-distance walk

• The Via Alpina, a border-crossing long-distance trail from Trieste/I to Monaco. © C. Schwann

On 1 January 2014, CIPRA International took over the secretariat of the long-distance trail Via Alpina. Together both alpine-wide networks are working for more sustainable development in the Alps. Passionate hikers shall not be the only ones to benefit.

Setting one foot in front of the other is the oldest and surely softest human locomotion way. While walking used to be an absolute necessity for commerce, and thus just a means to an end, it has now become a popular leisure activity. The varied alpine area is a particularly sought-after hiking destination. The slow motion in the diverse nature, the simplicity, the feeling of freedom, inspiring encounters and the possibility to discover oneself and different regions and countries make up its attractiveness.

Exchange between the cultures

For almost 15 years the Via Alpina has been preparing the way for this experience. Its five hiking trails are meeting places for the locals and visitors, experience paths for the alpine living and nature spaces and a physical link between all eight alpine countries, from the Adriatic Sea in Trieste to the Ligurian Sea in Monaco. The similarities over the borders, result of constant exchanges over the millennia, become obvious, for instance in agriculture or cooking. Language, landscape and cheese varieties change along the way, but the mighty nature, the traditional ways of dealing with its resources and risks and the Via Alpina logo remain as constant companions.

The Via Alpina is well established as a tourism offer. The takeover of the international secretariat by CIPRA International offers a chance to continue developing this offer while also enriching it with the topics of sustainable development. With its over 60 years of experience in alpine conservation, its large network in politics, society and economy and its multilingualism, CIPRA complements optimally the competences of the existing partners from alpine associations, tourism and regional development.

Networking in the Alpine area

In the future exciting ideas and projects shall thrive right and left of the long-distance trail. Dominik Siegrist, President of CIPRA and Professor for nature tourism at the Hochschule Rapperswil/CH adds: “The Via Alpina as uniting element of all the Alpine States is particularly interesting for CIPRA.” Knowledge and topics in sustainable development can be put into practice, with the Via Alpina setting the link between the regions in all Alpine countries.

CIPRA takes over the international secretariat from the French association “Grande Traversée des Alpes” (GTA), which initiated the Via Alpina in 1999 and is still managing the French secretariat of the project.

For all enquiries please contact:
Claire Simon, Director CIPRA International +423 237 53 53, eMail
Jakob Dietachmair, CIPRA International +423 237 53 11, eMail