The fascination of this place
is not about what there is
but about what is missing.

This is not a cliché.

February 2011

01 February 2011

This land is not yours alone

It may seem a paradox but paradox it is not. the tearing apart of the Stelvio National Park, the management responsibilities for which pass from central government to the local administration (Lombardia, Trento e Bolzano) is not a victory for the Südtirol system but on the very contrary it represents an adoption of an ‘Italian’ approach to things.
I neither intend to nor fear offending my Italian friends for they are the very first to admire our
Südtirol - it’s beauty, the quality of life and the excellence of its public services, very much in keeping with the great democratic tradition of northern Europe and Scandanavia in general. In fact the same Italian friends are the first to recognise the difference in positive terms when they visit and in many ways consider Südtirol an enviable model. And now what has happened to give rise to my wrath? Simple really, the SVP, the majority party here since 1945, has only just bartered a deal whereby the abstention of its parliamentarians in the vote of confidence of 14th December last against the national government was given in return for the tearing apart of Stelvio National Park. Words are beyond me in describing this squalid state of affairs.
Why am I so concerned? First and foremost is what I describe as the “Antersarc method”, whereby permission is given to build, asphalt, and generally render horrible a proud valley and throw away the patrimony of our people and a place belonging to all of us. I do not shy away from crying out “our” for it is the same sentiment used only some months back by the President of our Autonomous Provincial Government used to rebuke me when we were peacefully protesting against the absurd construction of the Antersasc road: “this place is not yours”, he criticised. Indeed I well recognise the fact and further recognise that the place is not his either. Nor is it the domain of the speculators I might add. It is better described as a patrimony of us all! And there is another thing which the cases of Stelvio and Antersasc have in common - the non adherence to regulations! It is no coincidence that the Regional Administration Tribunal has determined for the suspension of the road object of the dispute, and add to this the fact that many remark that the tearing apart of the National Park is against the Constitution, a constitution which provides that the protection of the environment is a matter for the state and not the local administration. All in all this wicked deception has nothing to do with Austro-Hungarian principle, nor with the renowned Ladin integrity, nor with the acclaimed Italian common sense approach, all having contributed to keeping this National Park as a single protected area that was and which remains the largest in the whole Alpine range (135 thousand hectares covering 24 municipalities).
The risk is that this rich national treasure, a pride of Italy since its foundation in 1935, and which boast tens of glaciers, more than two thousand species of flowers and plants, deer, goats, marmots, chamois, ibex, golden eagles and vultures, becomes nothing but a ‘free for all’. The risk is not limited to the introduction of hunting licenses but more in general to the frantic development trends such as we have seen for example in Valfurva, where the very mention of World Championship events was enough for a rape of the land.
Against this decision the response was immediate and protests were heard from Giulia Maria Mozzoni Crespi, President of Fai (Italian Environmental Foundation) and of parties such as Legambiente, Italia Nostra, Club Alpino Italiano, Federparchi, Italia Nostra, Legambiente, Lipu, Touring Club Italiano, Wwf Italia (all organisations demonstrating concern for the natural environment). Even the Minister for Environmental Affais, Prestigiacomo, was contrary to the decision..
I do not wish to have any prejudice, notwithstanding the “ Antersasc case”, against our ‘King Durni’, whom I recognise as having done some good things in this Region. We only wait to hear which guidelines will be adopted and which will be the strategy for and yardstick for measurement of this great and wonderful natural patrimony. I have a model in mind and it is that of the ‘Parc Naziunal Svizzer’ (what a nice Roman twang to the title!), which has become an example in all Europe for the respect of Nature and biodiversity, as well if I may add of sound and effective administration. I only hope that the personnel appointed to manage the Park will go to visit a reality that is a lesson in excellence. As far as I myself am concerned, I am ready to organise such a visit and to be part of it. You never know – even a twinning or something for the civic good come out of it!
Let’s take care of our Nature, let’s take care of our Südtirol, and let’s remember that we have need of true professionals and not of vain showmen who are at the beck and call of some ‘unknown’ but bring only harm to the community and treat our territory as a component part of a game of monopoly. Antersasc, Stelvio, the new eyesores of Sesto Punteria are all cases in point: and should we forget, dear President Durnwalder, I remind you that they, as this land, do not belong to you alone!