Drawing lots for alpine pastures

Most alpine farming land in the canton of Obwalden is owned by alpine cooperatives and corporations. These centuries-old organisations are responsible for managing and maintaining pastureland. They decide who can use which pastures and stipulate the conditions and duration of that entitlement. In five of the seven municipalities (Giswil, Kerns, Lungern, Sachseln and Sarnen), individual alpine pastures are allocated – where demand is greater than supply – by drawing lots. In Kerns, for example, eight different cooperatives and corporations share out a total of 4,653 hectares of pastureland, which according to current alpine law can be farmed by the same person for twelve years. The members of the cooperatives and corporations meet in a large restaurant dining room or even at a multi-purpose leisure centre to draw the lots. The procedure varies from community to community – in Lungern it consists of rolling dice, while in Kerns balls are drawn from a butter churn. The draw decides whether it’s all or nothing, whether a farmer gets fertile or non-fertile pastures – in short, it determines the economic prospects of the members’ own farms. At the last draw in Kerns in 2008, more than half of the applicants went away with nothing. As a result, they were forced to make other arrangements for their animals during the summer grazing season, such as purchasing summer grazing rights on someone else’s pastures.

Detailed description

Alpenverlosung (PDF, 443 kB, 04.06.2018)Ausführliche Beschreibung




Korporation Alpnach (Ed.): Korporation Alpnach. Von den Anfängen bis in die Gegenwart. Alpnach, 2012

Amt für Landwirtschaft und Umwelt des Kantons Obwalden (Ed.): Empfehlungen zur Vergabe von land- und alpwirtschaftlichen Flächen und Alpen durch öffentlich- und privatrechtliche Körperschaften im Kanton Obwalden. Sarnen, 2005

Monika Barth: Alpenverlosung weckt Emotionen. In: Neue Obwaldner Zeitung, 28. April 2008, p. 21

Karl Imfeld: Volksbräuche und Volkskultur in Obwalden. Kriens, 2006, p. 57-59

Arnold Niederer: Gemeinwerk im Wallis. Bäuerliche Gemeinschaftsarbeit in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart. Ed. Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde, Basel, 1956

Roger Sablonier: Innerschweizer Gesellschaft im 14. Jahrhundert. Sozialstruktur und Wirtschaft. In: Innerschweiz und frühe Eidgenossenschaft. Jubiläumsschrift 700 Jahre Eidgenossenschaft. Band 2: Gesellschaft, Alltag, Geschichtsbild. Ed. Historischer Verein der Fünf Orte. Olten, 1990, p. 9-233



Alpgenossenschaft Kerns ausserhalb der steinernen Brücke

Alpgenossenschaft Kerns

Korporation Sachseln

Korporation Schwendi-Wilen, Sarnen

Teilsame Obsee, Lungern

Teilsame Obsee, Lungern

Print contact