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Making politics with fire

Jul 31, 2019 / alpMedia
From the Trift Glacier in Switzerland to the Vrsič Pass in Slovenia, around 30 “Fires in the Alps” will burn across the Alpine peaks on 10 August 2019. People from all Alpine countries are thus setting a common sign for living waters and the preservation of the natural and cultural heritage of the Alps.
Image caption:
At the Trift glacier, on 10 August active Alpine enthusiasts ignite a fire in solidarity as a symbol for the preservation of the Alps and the protection of water bodies. (c) Dominik Siegrist

In the high mountains, where ice once formed the glaciers, global warming is leaving more and more rock and debris behind. Power plant, road and ski area projects are putting the sensitive natural areas of the Alps under additional pressure. On the second weekend in August, therefore, around 1,000 people have since 1988 met annually in various Alpine regions in order to ignite mountain fires as a show of solidarity.

For living waters

The landscape around the Trift Glacier, in the central Swiss Alps in the far east of the Canton of Bern, remains untouched but the glacier is melting away due to climate change. The Oberhasli power stations (KWO) are planning a reservoir there, but 95 percent of Switzerland’s hydropower potential has already been exploited. “Honest climate policy means not building new reservoirs but considering where there is potential for renewable energies,” explains Dominik Siegrist, an experienced mountain hiker, co-founder of the Trift Committee and former president of CIPRA International. On 10 August 2019, around 40 alpine dairymen and women will gather at the foot of the Trift Glacier in Switzerland to light a fire together “for living waters”.

“Pass it on” – mountain passes and their stories

Above the Slovenian municipality of Kranjska Gora, a road winds its way up to Vrsič, the highest road pass in the Julian Alps at 1,611 metres. The increasing car and motorcycle traffic over the pass and through the surrounding area clouds the idyll. From 8 to 10 August, CIPRA Slovenia will be organising discussion rounds, hikes, youth workshops and a participatory exhibition on the natural and cultural heritage of the area around the Vrsič Pass. On 10 August 2019 they will also light a fire at the top of the pass.

Elsewhere in the Alps, too, fires will be lit on the second weekend in August – for issues such as ecological transport concepts instead of road construction, for nature and climate protection and also for nature-oriented tourism. A list of all fires can be found at:  

More information: (de), (de), (de), (de)