Between Conservation and Development: Concretizing the First World Natural Heritage Site in the Alps Through Participatory Processes

Wiesmann, Urs; Liechti, Karina; Rist, Stephan (2005). Between Conservation and Development: Concretizing the First World Natural Heritage Site in the Alps Through Participatory Processes. Mountain Research and Development, 25(2), pp. 128-138. International Mountain Society

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This article presents an empirical interdisciplinary study of an extensive participatory process that was carried out in 2004 in the recently established World Natural Heritage Site “Jungfrau–Aletsch– Bietschhorn” in the Swiss Alps. The study used qualitative and quantitative empirical methods of social science to address the question of success factors in establishing and concretizing a World Heritage Site. Current international scientific and policy debates agree that the most important success factors in defining pathways for nature conservation and protection are: linking development and conservation, involving multiple stakeholders, and applying participatory approaches. The results of the study indicate that linking development and conservation implies the need to extend the reach of negotiations beyond the area of conservation, and to develop both a regional perspective and a focus on sustainable regional development. In the process, regional and local stakeholders are less concerned with defining sustainability goals than elaborating strategies of sustainability, in particular defining the respective roles of the core sectors of society and economy. However, the study results also show that conflicting visions and perceptions of nature and landscape are important underlying currents in such negotiations. They differ significantly between various stakeholder categories and are an important cause of conflicts occurring at various stages of the participatory process.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > NCCR North-South Management Centre [discontinued]
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Wiesmann, Urs Martin; Liechti, Karina and Rist, Stephan


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics




International Mountain Society


[439] Sustainability research and monitoring of the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site




Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

19 Oct 2015 16:11

Last Modified:

23 Nov 2015 15:46




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