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The Alpine Rhine fête

A joint effort: Paddeling the Alpine Rhine. © IMAGEdifferent

CIPRA Liechtenstein. Taming Europe’s biggest torrent began some two hundred years ago. Today, the Alpine Rhine is a canal, its course lined for the most part by intensively used farmland and residual pockets of wetland forest.

The constricted river is no longer able to fulfil its purpose as a lifeline for mankind and nature. To make people more aware of the usefulness of a more near-natural Alpine Rhine, CIPRA Liechtenstein teamed up with the Graubünden and St. Gallen WWF, Pro Natura Eastern Switzerland, Naturschutzbund Vorarlberg, Werkstatt Faire Zukunft and the Swiss water protection organisation Aqua Viva to put on a large fête.

At the spot where the Alpine Rhine flows in a wide arc around the Ellhorn, the organisers staged a varied programme on the banks of gravel and sand between the Liechtenstein municipality of Balzers and the Graubünden municipality of Fläsch: there were opportunities to canoe down small oxbows, study water- borne insects under the magnifying glass, stroke genuine beaver fur, and build sand castles and artworks out of stones. There was also plenty of time for a chat over food and drinks, and for interacting with the Rheinleben [Life on the Rhine] exhibition inside the marquee tent.

The many visitors at the Rhy-Fäscht fête were able to experience and enjoy the wide stretch of river and the near-natural setting of the river banks, the likes of which are normally only to be found in the Mastrilser wetlands along the Alpine Rhine. There is currently a great deal of discussion surrounding the widening of the river bed. It would benefit
the local recreation area in the over-exploited valley area as much as it would biodiversity. The governments of the countries bordering the area provided for the relevant restoration measures some time ago. Which is why, next year, the organisers will once again put on another fête and campaign for effective implementation.

www.cipra.org/en/liechtenstein