UNESCO World Heritage
Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch
It has imposing mountain ranges, unspoilt valleys and the largest contiguous glaciated area in the Alps. This World Heritage Site is one of the most spectacular high mountain landscapes in the world. It forms the heart of the Alps, encompassing the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, as well as the Great Aletsch Glacier, and covering an area of 824 km2. The region comprises various habitats, ranging from glaciers to rocky steppes, and it is an arresting reminder of the effects of climate change. The important role it has played in European literature, art, mountaineering and Alpine tourism reflects this majesty. Few other places on this planet can boast such a variety of contrasts and splendid rarities.
The World Heritage label is the highest distinction that can be bestowed on a natural landscape and it comes with an obligation to preserve its splendour for the next generation. «This area needs to be preserved in all its diversity for today’s generations and for those to come. The goal is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable development.» That is also what is written in the charter signed by the 23 local communities – 15 from the Canton of Valais and 8 from the Canton of Bern, including 6 from the Jungfrau Region itself. The Swiss Federal Council’s application for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List was approved in 2001 – making the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch area the first natural heritage site in the Alpine region. It consists mainly of high-mountain natural landscapes. 85 per cent of the area lies at an altitude of more than 2,000 m above sea level. Around 50 peaks here are higher than 3,500 m, and nine are higher than 4,000 m. The proportion of unproductive vegetation and vegetation-free areas is almost 90 per cent. With a few exceptions (e.g. the Jungfraujoch research station and Jungfraujoch station, the SAC huts, the rear Lauterbrunnen Valley and some cattle-grazing Alps), the World Heritage Site is either uninhabited or only seasonally inhabited.
FACT: Sad but true: currently, around 280 km2 of this World Heritage Site is covered by glacial ice. If we assume that temperatures will rise by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius, there will only be around 10 to 20% of it left by the year 2100.
World Nature Forum
The visitors center of the UNESCO World Heritage Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch opened its doors in September 2016. In the interactive exhibitions the visitor experiences with all its senses the property and immerse into the thrilling and varying sceneries of the Alps. The vistor is confronted in a spectacular exhibition with thrilling films, interactive experience stations, infographics and artefacts. His exploratory mind is challenged with key questions associated to the use of the natural heritage. The Panorama space is the highlight of the exhibition, with a screen of 100 square meters, where spectacular movies from the World Heritage will excite the visitors.