Giroparchi Nature Trail by Fondation Grand Paradis, a project based in the north of Italy has been named as winner of the 2020-2021 UIAA Mountain Protection Award partnered by the Bally Peak Outlook Foundation.
Giroparchi Nature Trail is a nature trekking activity project located in the heart of the Gran Paradiso National Park – the oldest of its kind in Italy – and open to teenagers between the ages of 11 and 14 from both the local Aosta Valley region and all over the peninsula. In parallel with the trekking component, teenagers acquire tools to communicate about the potential of national parks, improve their vocabulary, learn English expressions and stimulate curiosity in natural resources. Since its establishment in 2013, each year has been dedicated to a new theme. The project was also nominated for the MPA in 2017 and 2018.
Recognition from the UIAA and Bally Peak Outlook Foundation
“The projects proposed for the MPA during the course of the 2020-21 period are all very worthy of praise, considering the commendable and considerable efforts made to ensure mountain protection is also integral to the activities and plans foreseen for post-Covid recovery in the mountains, globally. Projects such as those proposed by Fondation Grand Paradis demonstrate how education efforts geared at instilling and cultivating mountain protection values, while enjoying being in the mountains, are not only possible but also transformative – especially for young people. The winners have demonstrated clear results that align with their goals, and which are compatible with the types of projects the MPA seeks to reward and highlight. The potential for transferability and prospects to see education as an integral part of sustainability in mountains is something to highlight and learn from this project” – Carolina Adler, UIAA Mountain Protection Commission President
“The Bally Peak Outlook Foundation is very proud to support the UIAA’s Mountain Protection Award as part of our global commitment to preserve mountain landscapes and empower their communities worldwide. We believe this is a truly collaborative effort, which is why it is fundamental to support localized projects that can deliver impactful solutions and share knowledge on the ground, to inspire future generations. Congratulations to the winning initiative, as well as all the nominees. We have a deep respect for the variety of activities submitted, and we wish them success in their important endeavours.” – Nicolas Girotto, Bally CEO and Chairman of the Bally Peak Outlook Foundation Board of Directors
The 2020-2021 Award
A total of 24 projects operational in more than 30 countries and on six continents were showcased as part of 2020-2021 MPA (the two years merged due to Covid-19). They represent a range of initiatives including encouraging youth participation, tackling pollution and climate change, creating sustainable national parks, spearheading clean-up campaigns and projects focused on women in mountaineering.
The announcement was made during a UIAA Mountain Network Series webinar dedicated to this year’s Award. The webinar featured contributions from the UIAA Executive Board (including UIAA President Peter Muir), the UIAA Mountain Protection Commission, Bally, Bally Peak Outlook Foundation (including Dawa Steven Sherpa, Bally Peak Outlook Foundation Board Member and expedition leader, CEO Asian Trekking and leader of Eco-Everest expeditions) as well as the winning project itself.
Following the announcement, the UIAA spoke with Luisa Vuillermoz, Director of Fondation Grand Paradis.
UIAA: How do you feel about winning the UIAA Mountain Protection Award?
Fondation Grand Paradis: We are deeply honoured and very excited to receive this important award from the UIAA. We are very touched by the words that UIAA bestows on our project and particularly those on the four concepts in which we strongly believe: sharing knowledge, diving into the natural world of the oldest national park in Italy, enhancing teenagers’ personal development and fostering stewardship and sustainability values.
We are happy to share this success with all the people who contributed to our project. We would like to thank the Gran Paradiso National Park and the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention for their support and all the people who with their passion and energy contributed to the success of this initiative.
What do you hope recognition as the UIAA Mountain Protection Award winner brings to the project?
Giroparchi Nature Trai (GNT) is an idea of Fondation Grand Paradis, a regional foundation that operates in the Aosta Valley Region to promote the natural and the cultural heritage of the Gran Paradiso territory. This Award gives our work an international dimension, enhancing our project and offers us new perspectives. This important success brings a motivation to continue to strengthen the knowledge of our mountains.
How was your project created and by who? How long did it take to establish?
The idea of Giroparchi Nature Trail was developed by Fondation Grand Paradis within the project “Giroparchi” whose aim was improving the natural and cultural tourism potential of the Gran Paradiso area, re-qualifying the extraordinary network of its mountain trails. The first edition of Giroparchi Nature Trail was held in 2011 and we are now celebrating our tenth anniversary.
As the project’s theme changes each year, what are your plans for 2022 and 2023?
2022 will be an important year in which two relevant events occur: the 100th anniversary of the Gran Paradiso National Park and the tenth anniversary of the Giroparchi Nature Trail. Next year’s theme will be dedicated to the celebration of the long history of the oldest national park in Italy and of its future embodied by GNT.
What are the long-term goals of your project? Do you hope to expand to take on more programmes across the year, even in the winter?
Two years ago, a twin project was created: Giroparchi Culture Trail. This trekking programme took place along the cultural paths of four Gran Paradiso municipalities to discover the cultural heritage of our territory. We are now working on a new idea with the same format: Giroparchi Adventure Trail, another twin project addressed to young generation to make them approaching alpinism to reach the top of Mt. Gran Paradiso.
Are you planning on running the project in other parts of Italy?, or further afield?
Fondation Grand Paradiso is a local body working with strong roots and for the Gran Paradiso territory and having a strong international vocation. We will be glad to share our project as best practice to promote mountain sustainable development to raise the awareness of the young generation on the fragility of the unique alpine ecosystem.
What advice would you give to people trying to create similar projects to your own in other countries?
The drivers of the success of the project are the passion and the energy that people are investing to improve Giroparchi Nature Trail year by year. We identified a format that works perfectly but the challenge is not to replicate the contents. For this reason in every edition we select a different theme to raise the awareness on different topics, we change the Gran Paradiso National Park valley of our trekking, we propose a different activity programme and this has allowed us to keep alive the interest of our youngsters who already participated in several editions.
What do you think are the main challenges facing the Alps in terms of mountain protection or in terms of overtourism?
The challenges the Alps are facing are many: depopulation, the aging of the Alpine communities, but one of the most relevant threat is overtourism that risks to transform the Alps into a playground.
How can these problems best be tackled?
To counter depopulation we are working on projects to attract not only tourists but also active citizens inviting in particular smartworkers and digital nomads to live in our territory. Fostering the awareness of the young people is extremely important to make them understand that the Alps, with their altitude and their reduced surface, are a symbol of quality. The Alps are changing and the communities have to adapt to these changes.
During the trekking programme what kind of activities do you organise to educate participants about mountain protection?
The educational programme focuses on moments of dissemination and activities dedicated to mountain knowledge, park history, conservation and respect for its resources, but also to the relationship between the human and the park.
Do you believe your project helps foster an interest in climbing and mountaineering amongst students?
Yes, several teenagers have participated in different editions of the trekking project and some of them develop their interest in climbing and mountaineering, initiating the process to become a mountain guide. One of these is Leonardo Imbimbo, from Cogne, who participated in three GNT editions and this year accompanied the groups as Junior Mentor.
How will you use the prize money of EUR 10,000 that comes with winning the UIAA Mountain Protection Award?
We will use the prizemoney to improve the forthcoming 2022 edition of Giroparchi Nature Trail. In these ten years more then 200 teenagers have improved their English and learned about the mountains of the Gran Paradiso National Park. 2022 is an important year for the park and for our project and we are planning to organize a reunion of Giroparchi Nature Trail boys and girls, many of whom have now become adults.
2020-2021 Award Prizes
The Winner is one of three prizes offered as part of the annual award. French-based Zéro Déchet Mont Blanc was announced as the Best New Initiative on 19 November. A week later MacGillycuddy Reeks European Innovation Partnership Project from Ireland was revealed as the Runner-up.
Media interested in covering the 2020-2021 UIAA Mountain Protection Award can find visual and text assets related to all three of the winning projects.
ABOUT THE UIAA MOUNTAIN PROTECTION AWARD
Since its conception in 2013, the UIAA Mountain Protection Award has proved an emphatic success. In the past eight years, the MPA has showcased and supported 142 projects from over 30 countries. The platform has enabled initiatives to receive international recognition, much-needed funding, exchange ideas and share best practices. Investment generated by the Award has helped projects advance in meeting key targets such as building infrastructures to improve the lives and conditions of mountain people and communities.
The Award is open to projects and associations whose activities are directly related to mountaineering and mountain-based sports and in parallel who demonstrate an engagement and collaboration with local communities to develop a culture of mountaineering activities and initiatives that are both sustainable and that attract and inspire visitors. 2020 marked an exciting new development with the Bally Peak Outlook Foundation partnering the Award for its next two editions. Nominated projects must be supported or recognised by UIAA member associations.
Please visit the official Award page for full details.
ABOUT THE BALLY PEAK OUTLOOK FOUNDATION
The Bally Peak Outlook Foundation was established in 2020, demonstrating the Swiss luxury brand’s long-term commitment to mountain preservation. With a mission to safeguard fragile alpine environments from the adverse effects of global warming and excessive outdoor tourism, the Bally Peak Outlook Foundation aims to raise awareness around the issues threatening the future of these extreme landscapes and empowering local communities and reputable, on-the-ground partners to drive positive and sustainable change. To learn more, visit Bally.com/peakoutlook
Bally is a Swiss luxury brand established in 1851, with a rich heritage in shoemaking, and a longstanding relationship to architecture, arts and the environment. Today, the brand offers unique designs across shoes, accessories and ready-to-wear, driven by a dedication to craftsmanship and a contemporary aesthetic. Bally has over 320 retail stores and 500 multi-brand points of sale spanning across 60 countries worldwide, including a global e-commerce platform serving 61 countries. For more information, please visit Bally.com