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Bearded vulture and hydropower in the Swiss Alps – a good vote!

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Photo Bruno Barthémy/VCF
Photo Bruno Barthémy/VCF

Switzerland is famous for its referenda – and also for its bearded vultures, now back in the Swiss Alps after an absence of 100 years, due to a successful reintroduction project led internationally by the VCF, and locally by the Foundation Pro Bartgeier.

This week a small referendum was held in a small village in the Engadin Valley (canton of Graubünden), on the merits of a hydroelectric plant that could have significant impacts on one of the most successful breeding pairs of bearded vultures n Switzerland –  the construction works would happen only a few hundred meters from the vultures nest and roosting sites.

In a close voting (74 to 64), the local residents voted this week against the planned hydrolectric plant, earmarked for the Val Chamura, a remote and wild valley, still in pristine conditions. This, plus the fact that the price of the electricity is only competitive due to federal support, probably swung the decision against the dam – a good, common sense decision, according to the VCF.

The VCF and other partners have so far spent millions in the project to reintroduce this species into the Alps, and the recolonisation has been celebrated as one of the most remarkable wildlife comeback success stories of our times. The bearded vulture is now a source of pride and joy across the alpine arch – surely worth more than a relatively small hydropower plant, which can be constructed elsewhere with less impact on nature and wildlife.

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