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Mountain Wilderness Project: Cleaning The Alps

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Last year we announced that we would be sponsoring a Mountain Wilderness Project in partnership with EOCA. We’re now proud to announce the project a success and write about the amazing work these groups have done.

The Mountain Wilderness project’s aim was to improve five key environmentally damaged locations in the Alps. The issues in these locations ranged from abandoned tourist facilities to barbed wire and river pollution. The project in fact managed to tackle seven locations and yielded some tangible results to the areas.

Regional Natural Park of “the Ballons des Vosges”

In just a single day and under a blazing sunshine, around twenty volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life carried hundreds of fiberglass pipes weighing from 40 to 80 kg to a dumpster for their transport to a dump as well as partially dismantling the metal chassis for recycling. No less than 11 tonnes of scrap (among which 6 tonnes of fiberglass) were removed from the landscape.

Parc Naturel Régional de la Chartreuse

In this project, 20 volunteers supervised by Mountain Wilderness, Chartreuse Propre and Respect Planet participated in a one day environmental remediation of the Vence River, located in the Regional Natural Park of Chartreuse (Isère).

The plan was to clean a 1500m-long section of the river that has been polluted over time by unregulated landfills as well as rubbish carried in by the water. In all, more than 2 tonnes of waste have been removed from the mountain.

Mercantour National Park : Operation Vésubie’s Barbed Wire

In the Mercantour, 50 volunteers from the Mountain Wilderness and Point d’eau organisations took part in an unusual but hugely important project. Under the supervision of Park Rangers and equipped with gloves, bolt cutters and sledgehammers, these volunteers removed barbed wire lines put in place by the Italian army during WWII. Thanks to the 19th operation led in the Mercantour by Mountain Wilderness, 4 tonnes of waste were removed over the weekend.

20th Operation in the Mercantour National Park : Tinée

The history of the marvellous Gialorgues Valley did not prevent 23 smiling volunteers from taking up the site of the obsolete infrastructures dismantling operation. In the wake of the operation that took place the previous week in Vésubie, Mountain Wilderness began a new action to remove barbed wire lines in the wild Tinée Valley area; the last remnants of defences running across the Gialorgues pass. In total, about 3.8 tonnes of barbed wire were removed from the grassy slopes by volunteers who were joined by four prisoners close to the end of their sentences and their escorts.

Military infrastructure removed from the Cerces Massif

Since the 2nd September, things have changed at the Buffère pass. Barbed wire “haystacks” and metal sheets no longer litter the ground. Regular hikers of this area would be surprised. Newcomers on the other hand would not notice the remains of the Maginot line anymore.

Drag lift disassembly at Alex, Haute-Savoie

The Thônes drag-lift, first disassembled in 1971, was soon reinstalled at Villards-Dessus, close to the village of Alex at the foot of the Aravis Mountains. The 400m-long drag lift was run by volunteers of the sports club until 1976, after which it was abandoned. At the start of October 2017, after some 41 years, it was finally completely removed by Mountain Wilderness volunteers and local residents. The five pylons, cables and various scrap, in total 2 tonnes, were taken for recycling.

Dismantling work at the Col du midi

This removal project was of the final station on the Glaciers Cable Car. Unused, unmaintained and dangerous, this location was of potential harm to humans as well as the local environment.

Summary of work

This long term project has achieved some fantastic results in some incredibly important places. Overall for 2017 the project achieved:

  • 12 days of work done by more than 200 participants
  • More than 59 tonnes of obsolete installations removed from the mountains
  • A new record in operations completed in a single year

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