Avalanche risk management*

*The candidature for inclusion in the representative list of intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO was submitted to UNESCO in March 2019.

Historical, economic and topographical circumstances in Switzerlandhave led to an accumulation of specialist practical knowledge and skills with respect to the alpine landscape. Dealing with the risk of avalanches provides a perfect example. Practical knowledge was reflected in pre-industrial society in the structure of settlements and in religious practices such as votive offerings. Furthermore, even early society took steps to deal with the risk of avalanches and their consequences, for example the Great St Bernard Hospice with the St Bernard dog as a symbol for alpine rescue. In the course of the twentieth century many methods of active prevention were developed and implemented. As well as new protective constructions and improved forest maintenance, measures also included planning tools such as risk maps and avalanche registries. At the same time, rescue services have seen some significant changes in terms of professionalism, electronic searching devices, evacuation techniques and airlifts (e.g. Air Glacier, Air Zermatt). Recently, the development of specialist institutions brought scientific progress to the problems posed by avalanches in Switzerland, forming the basis for the expansion of the alarm and crisis management units.

Detailed description




Connected traditions


Robert Bolognesi : Attention avalanche ! Evaluer et réduire les risques. Paris, 2003

Andrée Fauchère : Evolène, 21 février 1999, 20h27…, Genève, 1999

Roland Flückiger-Seiler: Lawinen. In: Siedlungsanlagen und Siedlungsformen (Die Bauernhäuser des Kantons Wallis 3.1). Ed. Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde. Basel, 2011, p. 76-81

Boris Gusic, Miriam Weber, Philipp Imboden: Lawinenverbauungen aus Trockensteinmauern am Beispiel Faldumalp. Diplomwahlfacharbeit am Institut für Denkmalpflege und Bauforschung, ETHZ. Zürich, 2008

Anne Herold-Revaz, Sylvie Dulex Putallaz, Laurent Bridel : Représentations du risque d’avalanches et comportements sociaux dans deux communes valaisannes. Salvan et Evolène. Zürich, 1998

Pascal Ruedin, Marie Claude Morand : Montagne je te hais – Montagne je t’adore / Berg, ich hasse dich – Berg ich liebe dich. Ed. Musées cantonaux du Valais. Sion, 2005

Service des forêts et du paysage du canton du Valais / Dienststelle für Wald und Landschaft des Kantons Wallis (Ed.): Avalanches ! Les événements de février 1999 / Lawinen! Die Ereignisse vom Februar 1999. Sion, 2009




Kanton Wallis
Sektion Naturgefahren
Dienststelle für Wald und Landschaft

WSL – Institut für Schnee- und Lawinenforschung SLF
Flüelastrasse 11
7260 Davos
Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research

Schweizer Alpen-Club SAC
Monbijoustrasse 61
3000 Bern 14
Swiss Alpine Club

Schweizer Bergführerverband SBV
Schweizer Bergführerverband SBV

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