Mountain Wilderness Austria
Mountain Wilderness Belgium
Mountain Wilderness Belgium is the Belgian Chapter of the organisation. Its objective is to raise awareness among the Belgians as to wilderness in the mountains and its benefits. MW Belgium tries to convey this message to all those who practice mountaineering both in the Summer and in the Winter, although not living in the mountains and in the relevant regions.
It is very important to raise awareness among them, as they have to take an active role in the mountains and not act solely as consumers, who don’t care about the future of mountain areas. They must take responsibility for protecting the mountains they love and for raising awareness among others.
Mountain Wilderness Catalunya
Mountain Wilderness Catalunya was founded in Barcelona on June 19th, 1989, in the headquarters of the FEEC – Federació d’Entitats Excursionistes de Catalunya, as a National Chapter of Mountain Wilderness International. The long tradition of Catalan hiking, and its involvement in the preservation of mountains, was thus linked to a current of transnational thought rooted in the mountaineering world.
The first public presentation of MW Catalunya was held on May 22nd, 1990, and the first major action was the “Molieres Valley operation” to clean up this Pyrenean valley in June 1991.
Since then -over more than 30 years- several actions have been carried out by MW Catalunya to restore high and medium mountain landscapes, to report environmental aggressions and to explain the meaning of wilderness.
We publish a newsletter -“Mountain Wilderness Catalunya, alpinistes de tot el món en defensa de l’alta muntanya” sharing reflections and thoughts on the conservation and protection of mountains. We act on a local scale but we also carry out joint actions in other countries and continents with other MW chapters and other organisations.
Mountain Wilderness France
Mountain Wilderness France was established in 1988 as the very first national Chapter of the international organisation founded the year before in Italy. It still is the largest Chapter, with approximately 1,500 members and a salaried staff.
Haroun Tazieff, renowned volcanologist, was its first president, followed by the outstanding mountaineer Patrick Gabarrou. François Labande, famous author of mountaineering guidebooks, remained the cornerstone of the association during the following eight years, when its headquarters were near Evian, on the south shore of Lake Geneva.
In 1996, the headquarters of MW France moved to Grenoble and a new team took over, with Bernard Amy as new president. As a melting pot of environmental activists and mountain freaks, Grenoble, capital of the French Alps, proved to be a good choice for the NGO, bringing those two cultures together in a new and unusual way. Despite the historical and geographical attractiveness of this area, MW France has members everywhere in France and its actions focus on all French mountain areas (Pyrénées, Massif Central, Vosges, Jura, Corsica).
On important actions such as lawsuits filed against development projects or offroad vehicle gatherings, MW France generally acts in coordination with mainstream regional environmental organisations such as FRAPNA, under the umbrella of France Nature Environnement, but also with the Federation of French Alpine Clubs (FFCAM).
Mountain Wilderness Germany
Mountain Wilderness Germany was established on April 23rd, 2000, in Munich and its members are from all over the country.
The aim of MW Germany is to protect the few remaining areas of wilderness in the German Alps and save them from disneyfication, expansion of ski resorts and new forms of exploitation. We organise actions and campaigns to draw attention to those issues, raise awareness of local people and people at large as well as get in touch with decision-makers. We cooperate with other nature conservation organisations and NGOs.
Our work mainly focusses on the German part of the Alpine range. As there is no MW Chapter in Austria at present, we sometimes also organise actions in the Austrian Alps, such as on the Austrian Pitztal glacier.
We also published two guidebooks on Summer and Winter hikes that can be done by using public means of transport.
In the meantime we have become a well-known and respected organisation, both on the Alpine scene and by the media.
Mountain Wilderness Italy
The Italian Chapter was established on June 11th, 1991, following the actions taken by the newly founded Mountain Wilderness organisation at the end of the ‘80s on Mont Blanc and Marmolada. Mountain Wilderness Italy fills a gap, namely the lack of an association for the conservation and protection of the mountain environment. Almost 40% of the Italian territory is mountainous: both the Alps and the Appennines deserve proper protection.
Mountain Wilderness International immediately assigned MW Italy two important tasks: the establishment of a Mont Blanc National Park and the enlisting of the Dolomites as UNESCO World Heritage site. In 2009 the Dolomites were finally put on the list of UNESCO World Heritage.
At a national level, MW Italy has fought for Marmolada (a lawsuit filed for damages to the glacier was won MW Italy) and Monte Rosa, against heliskiing and snowmobiles, for the establishment of parks (such as the Gran-Sasso-Laga National Park), protected areas, water courses, mountain roads…
With time Mountain Wilderness changed: in the beginning expert and renowned mountaineers organised events to attract media and public attention, with the aim of making the organisation known to the general public. This approach has given way to a larger number of mountain lovers, not necessarily mountaineers or hikers, who take action to protect and preserve mountains. Today MW Italy has several hundred members and can count on their support as activists and volunteers. In 2004, the Italian Ministry for the Environment finally recognised MW Italy as a public benefit organisation.
Today MW Italy’s main task is to make the voices of those heard, who do not have the means to do so, to take action where no one else is able or willing to do so, and to join forces with other NGOs so as to send out a clear message on the protection of mountain areas.
Mountain Wilderness Netherlands
Mountain Wilderness Spain
Mountain Wilderness Ayllón, Guadarrana and Gredos was founded in 1991 by a group of mountaineers from central Spain, from the area around Madrid, whose main interest was the protection of the Central Range mountains. In this range, the groups of Sierra de Ayllón, Sierra de Guadarrama and Sierra de Gredos stand out. It should be pointed out that this Chapter faces the difficult problem of protecting mountains that are very close to Madrid, a densely populated urban area. The Central Range has limited high mountain spaces, this implying a very high tourist pressure, mainly in Guadarrama. On the other hand, medium mountain and foothill areas are under strong real estate pressure. In addition, regional and local authorities adopt policies in favour of ski resorts, holiday residences and non-sustainable tourism. Some of our cleaning actions in Guadarrama deserve special mention as they not only had an immediate effect, but also allowed us to educate some of the polluters. We organised also some demonstrations calling for the protection of Guadarrama by establishing a National Park and actions within the framework of the “Silence!” campaign or to protect traditional trails, just to mention a few.
Mountain Wilderness Switzerland
A brief overview
Mountain Wilderness Switzerland was founded on January 16th, 1994 in Brig, a little town in the heart of the Canton Valais. Very quickly the national Chapter became an important pillar of the international movement and an equally important driver for environmentally sensitive mountaineering and the protection of mountain areas.
Our key projects and campaigns
Environmentally sensitive moutaineering
- Clean climbing: as an alternative to sport climbing, on the rise, we show how to practise rock climbing in the Alps without leaving any traces.
- Wild snow: this campaign calls for the respect for wildlife in Winter. MW makes people aware of the disturbance that winter sports can cause to wildlife.
- AlpenTaxi: Switzerland has an excellent public transport system that is ideal for travelling in the Alps. Our website www.alpenTaxi.ch shows how to travel car-free in the Alps.
- Silence! Stop Heliskiing: most Alpine countries, with the exception of Switzerland, have banned or highly restricted heliskiing. Every year, this so called «sport» leads to 15,000 flights in the Alps. MW is involved in political negotiations on this issue.
- Renaturation of wilderness areas: disused tourism infrastructures, military buildings or hydropower plants – their presence affects wilderness areas. MW calls for accountability of authorities and those in charge and for the removal such disused infrastructures and installations.
- No further exploitation of wilderness areas: many more tourism development projects are in the pipeline. Even light infrastructure like hiking trails, via ferratas and suspension bridges have severe effects on wilderness. MW calls for a concentration of tourism development in the Alps.