The Triumph of the Commons: Heritage Tourism and Sustainable Agriculture in a Swiss Alpine Commune.

Prof. Julie Hartley-Moore
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Traditional Alpine agro-pastoralism typically involves corporate (village) management of pastures and other natural resources, along with corporate coordination of labor. In fact, many researchers have argued that these communal patterns are necessitated by the environmental constraints of mountain setting. Others have argued that communal property ownership is environmentally degrading and results in the “tragedy of the commons” because individual users exploit common property rather than considering its long-term sustainability.

Over the last 200 years, mountain villages throughout the Alpine chain in Central Europe have undergone dramatic changes, including an abandonment of traditional agro-pastoral practices in favor of industrial work or employment in the tourism sector. Many have seen tourism as a particular threat to sustainable agro-pastoralism and the ecosystems of mountain communities. This presentation examines the management of the commons in one Swiss community. It finds that although corporate holdings were the ideal in the past, it was money from tourism that actually gave the municipality the capital it needed to purchase much of its corporate property. Tourism and corporate ownership have also had environmental benefits: tourism revenues have increased corporate holdings of forests, pastures, and herding and dairying facilities and their management. In fact, the village’s largest common pasturage, still used for summer pasturing and winter skiing, has been declared a historic site and a nature reserve protecting hundreds of species of native plants, mushrooms, birds, butterflies, and mammals. This presentation examines the factors that allowed this balance between sustainable agricultural practices and tourism development.

Keywords: Sustainable development, Heritage tourism, Cultural/environmental commons, Agrarian heritage, Conservation, Mixed mountain farming
Stream: Cultural Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Triumph of the Commons, The

Prof. Julie Hartley-Moore

Professor, Department of Anthropology, Brigham Young University

Ref: S06P0472