Photographer's Note

Cows on a high alp near First, with a chain of high mountains over the Lüschental valley opposite. This was taken from fairly near the top of the cable car line up from Grindelwald, with the Schreckhorn opposite across the valley.

Transhumance in the Alps, or seasonal migration between valley and high pastures, is a traditional practice that has shaped much of the landscape in the Alps, as without it, most areas below 2000 m would be forests. While tourism and industry contribute today much to Alpine economy, seasonal migration to high pastures is still practiced in Switzerland. In some places, cattle are taken care of by local farmer families who move to higher places. In others, this job is for herdsmen who are employees of the cooperative owning the pastures.

Most Alpine pastures are below 2,400 m, all are below 2,800 m. The higher regions not suitable for transhumance are known as the High Alps. In Switzerland, about 380,000 cattle including 130,000 milk cows as well as 200,000 sheep are in summer on high pastures. Milk from cows here is usually made into local cheese specialities, handmade using traditional methods and tools. Alpine pastures amount to 35 percent of Swiss farmland and 13 percent of the entire country. The total population of mountain farmers has decreased to about 43,000 (in 1980) from 160,000 (in 1910). The farmers that are involved in mountain farming only make up about 15% of the total farming population in Switzerland.


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Additional Photos by Will Perrett (willperrett) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1063 W: 301 N: 2924] (13454)
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