50 francs – 100 years of the Swiss National Park
Series: Switzerland – Gold franc coins
The Swiss National Park (SNP) celebrates its centenary in 2014. Visionary pioneers from the circle of the Swiss Nature Conservation Committee translated their dream into reality: They created an 'open-air laboratory' in which a piece of Swiss mountain landscape could develop free from human influence. The objective of the founders of the SNP differed from that of the national parks that had already been established earlier. The protagonists at that time came from the educated middle class which, on the one hand, promoted technological progress but at the same time worried about the future of nature. With justification, because the radical social change in the 19th century and the tumultuous development of tourism at the beginning of the 20th century left clear traces: Larger wild animals, just the same as the edelweiss and other alpine plants had become rare, railway projects opened up valleys and peaks, the belief in the promises of technology reached a climax. The SNP is not only the oldest alpine national park but, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), it is also regarded as a Category Ia nature reserve (area of wilderness). As a result, it is committed to particularly strict protection which is based on leaving nature completely to itself. This objective has not changed over the past 100 years: Strict nature conservation in the sense of non-intervention, scientific documentation and research as well as – ever more important in the past few decades – environmental education and publicity work.