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Creating Wilderness

Creating Wilderness: A Transnational History of the Swiss National Park

Patrick Kupper
Translated by Giselle Weiss
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 276
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  • Book Info
    Creating Wilderness
    Book Description:

    The history of the Swiss National Park, from its creation in the years before the Great War to the present, is told for the first time in this book. Unlike Yellowstone Park, which embodied close cooperation between state-supported conservation and public recreation, the Swiss park put in place an extraordinarily strong conservation program derived from a close alliance between the state and scientific research. This deliberate reinterpretation of the American idea of the national park was innovative and radical, but its consequences were not limited to Switzerland. The Swiss park became the prime example of a "scientific national park," thereby influencing the course of national parks worldwide.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-374-1
    Subjects: History, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    In the twentieth century the national park became a global phenomenon. In the early 1900s, when the Swiss National Park was planned and set up, few national parks were in existence around the world, and Europe had none. Since then, the situation has changed dramatically. Europe now boasts several hundred national parks; globally, they number in the thousands. In the last hundred years the national park has clearly become one of the most significant spatial structures of contemporary times. At the same time, the national park is problematic. It is no accident that the total number and area of all...

  7. CHAPTER 1 Global Parks: National Parks, Globalization, and Western Modernism
    (pp. 15-37)

    “Πολλἀ τἀ δειυἀκ’ ούδέυ ἀυθρώπου δειυó τερου πέλει” (Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man). These words, from Sophocles’ tragedyAntigone,were the first to echo through the chamber of the National Council, the larger of the two houses of the Swiss Parliament, shortly after 8 o’clock on the morning on 25 March 1914.¹ Suddenly, it was clear to everyone (even those still half asleep) that the day’s business would be anything but ordinary. “From the start,” reported theNeue Zürcher Zeitung,Walter Bissegger’s “presentation, which excelled in both content and form, put the parliamentary assembly in...

  8. CHAPTER 2 National Natures: The Swiss National Park and the Conservationist Internationale
    (pp. 38-69)

    “Homo novus Helveticus” blared an article in the 1 April 1910 issue of the Bern newspaperDer Bundreporting the Swiss government’s attempt to mediate a dispute that had broken out in a parliamentary committee over the proposal for a Swiss national park. The committee drafting the proposal had initially favored the idea, but had gotten bogged down in the details. The Federal Council now promised to support both draft versions of the bill. By way of background for this decision, the news article recapitulated the history of the national park plan to date and reminded readers that “both the...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Local Landscapes: Political Spaces, Institutional Arrangements, and Subjective Attitudes
    (pp. 70-106)

    The regional focus of the Swiss National Park has given rise to no small number of problems over the last one hundred years. A telling introduction to the topic is a controversy that played out comparatively recently, at the end of the twentieth century. In the mid-1990s, the park was to be expanded. The new park would encompass an area of around 500 square kilometers spread over twenty communes rather than four. The core zone, comprising 170 square kilometers of the existing park—where, as previously, nature would be left to develop freely—was to be extended to at least...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Total Protection: Philosophy and Practice of Freely Developing Nature
    (pp. 107-136)

    In summer 1935 theSociété nationale d’acclimatation de Franceorganized a tour through several Central European national parks. The program included the Swiss National Park, the Karwendel and Gross Glockner Parks in Austria, the Triglav in (then) Yugoslavia, and finally, Tatra and Pieniny, two parks situated in the border area of Czechoslovakia and Poland that were emerging as transboundary protected areas. One of the participants put together a detailed, illustrated travel report that was published in the magazinesDes Eaux et Fôrets and La Terre et la Vie. At the very beginning of his report, the author divided the parks...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Ecological Field Laboratory: The Park as a Scientific Experiment
    (pp. 137-174)

    In spring 1980 Bernhard Nievergelt, a wildlife biologist at the University of Zurich’s Zoological Institute and chairman of protected areas for the Swiss League for Nature Protection (SBN), submitted a working paper to the national park’s research commission (WNPK) laying out a fundamental plan of research for the Swiss National Park. In analyzing the current situation, Nievergelt concluded that the Swiss National Park figured among “the most researched areas on Earth.” However, the abundance of individual contributions “added up tono overall understanding,as one might have hoped. This raises the question of how to direct research efforts toward new...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Wilderness Limits: Natural Dynamics and Social Equilibrium
    (pp. 175-218)

    In December 1958 Josias Braun-Blanquet, the dean of national park research who was now seventy-five years old, wrote for theNeue Zürcher Zeitunga widely publicized essay on biological balance in the national park. Braun-Blanquet told the newspaper’s readers that the extensive mountain pine woods that blanketed large parts of the park and impressed everyone who saw them were “ essentially second-growth and obscured the formerly far more valuable Swiss stone pines.” In the eighteenth century stone pines fell victim to massive clear cutting when the salt flats from Hall in Tyrol were being supplied with wood from the Lower...

  13. CONCLUSION Creating Wilderness
    (pp. 219-225)

    In early 1909 when the Swiss League for Nature Protection was founded, theNeue Zürcher Zeitungwelcomed the news: “The new league wishes to create a ‘reserve’ along the lines of North America’s Yellowstone park. There, nature shall be left to its own devices, humans ‘and their sorrows’ will be kept out, and we will see how fantastically beautiful and interesting such an area can be. People will tremble in awe; cultural snobs, occasional tourists, and alpenrose pickers will be ashamed.” However, the writer did wish to dispel one particular illusion, “namely, that such a park actually represents unadulterated nature....

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 226-254)
  15. Index
    (pp. 255-266)