Val Müstair, the district of Scuol and the Swiss National Park (SNP) form the UNESCO Biosfera Engiadina Val Müstair. The basic principle behind the Biosfera is the maintenance of a sustainable relationship between humans and nature. This model region is designed to demonstrate that sustainable economies work and are profitable. The Val Müstair region is ideally suited to its role as a nature park within the UNESCO biosphere reserve. Its natural landscape is largely intact, most of its farms and pastures are organic, and the forestry and tourism industries are based on sustainability criteria.
The Swiss National Park (SNP) was named Switzerland’s first UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1979. In 1995, the UNESCO in Seville made major changes to modernise the biosphere reserve concept. The SNP did not meet the new UNESCO requirements, because the park only consisted of a strongly protected core area. That is why the SNP teamed up with Val Müstair in 2001 to establish a ‘buffer zone and transition area’ within the region. Biosfera Val Müstair initially applied for the status of a regional nature park in accordance with the new Nature and Cultural Heritage Protection Act (NHG) and has been a federally recognised regional nature park since 2010. On 2 June 2010, UNESCO provisionally awarded the biosphere title with two conditions.
In 2015, the district of Scuol agreed to the northern expansion of the biosphere reserve and became the third Biosfera cooperation partner on 1 January 2016. The necessary paperwork was submitted to UNESCO in Paris in September 2016 and the park was awarded the full title on 13 June 2017.
What is a biosphere reserve?
Worldwide there are 669 biosphere reserves that serve as model regions. Their aim is to balance the protection of biological diversity and natural resources with the sustainable use of resources.
According to the Seville strategy, a region can be recognised as a UNESCO biosphere reserve if they
contain representative ecosystems of the biogeographical regions of the world
are of significant importance for the maintenance of biodiversity
facilitate sustainable development and research in the region
contain one or more core zones, which are surrounded by buffer zones that ensure the ecosystems are protected, as well as transition areas where it is possible for resources to be used sustainably
are managed using an organisational form that, among other things, allows for the involvement of the public and important community actors
Some of these criteria are the same as the requirements for a regional nature park, which are listed in the Swiss Federal Nature and Cultural Heritage Protection Act. That is why in Switzerland, only regions that are already recognised nature parks can apply to become UNESCO biosphere reserves.