Lonely Planet Writer

Switzerland to hold public vote on second national park

With plunging valleys, wending rivers, acres of wild meadows and the vast Adula Mountain as its crowning glory, the mostly untouched Adula Park in eastern Switzerland has all the hallmarks of a national park, but it will have to wait until Sunday to see if it can officially be granted the status of one.

For that to happen, the park requires at least 13 of the 17 surrounding communes to vote in favour of the motion during a referendum. If successful, Adula Park will become the nation’s second protected nature reserve after the Swiss National Park in the Engadine.

Route past Alpine flower meadows in the Swiss National Park, the Swiss Alps, Switzerland.
Route past Alpine flower meadows in the Swiss National Park, the Swiss Alps, Switzerland. Image by Tim Graham/Getty Images

Extending from the southern section of the Vorderrhein Valley to the Blenio Valley in Ticino, Adula Park covers around 1000 sq km. Some 16,000 people live in or around the park itself, but much of it remains unaffected by human intrusion. Although the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment initially approved the area’s application to become a national park back in 2010, the decision will still go to a public vote next weekend.

Serravalle Castle, Semione, Blenio Valley, Canton Ticino, Switzerland
Serravalle Castle, Semione, Blenio Valley, Canton Ticino, Switzerland Image by Marka/UIG/ Getty Images

The vote is expected to be close as farmers and hunters who use the area are likely to argue that national park status will limit their activities across the park. Currently, the park offers a number of themed trails, pretty mountainside villages and hiking routes.