WWF wins twice, with wolves and windmills

Photo: ©2009 WWF/Klein Hubet

BERN, SWITZERLAND – WWF Switzerland is counting two environmental battles won this week. Its fight to see Valais respect the Bern International Treaty that covers the protection of wolves, an endangered species, resulted in a decision by the Sion district tribunal 13 December to condemn former cantonal councilor Jean-René Fournier to 60 days community service, with the sentence suspended.

Fournier is no longer in the cantonal government but represents Valais in the upper house of the Swiss parliament.

Valais should start adding shepherds, dogs to sheep herds, says WWF

The decision relates to the 2006 death of a wolf that had killed 30 sheep in Valais. Fournier approved the permit to shoot the animal and after its death he stuffed it and had it on display in his office, despite the international ban to which Switzerland is party.

“Wolf protection policy in canton Valais has until now been centred mainly around using hunting rifles, but this doesn’t resolve the problem at all,” says Pierrette Rey, WWF Switzerland spokesperson. More and more lone wolves are coming into Switzerland, crossing the Alps, she points out, suggesting the time has come for Valais to adapt to the situation by putting shepherds and guard dogs with herds of sheep. That system has proven workable in other cantons, Rey notes.

EolJoux project to move ahead quickly

WWF Switzerland and the partners involved in a Jura aeolian project came to an agreement at the end of last week that will allow the project to move ahead promptly while “preserving nature” says the WWF. The environmental group and its Vaud section, working with Société électrique de la Vallée de Joux (SEVJ) and the commune of Chenit’s municipal government, partners in the EolJoux project, have reached an agreement for seven energy-producing windmills to go ahead.

WWF insists it will continue to study each alternative energy project closely to ensure that maintaining biodiversity is respected, but it says it is pleased that the agreement is a step forward in helping Switzerland move away from nuclear energy without resorting to fossil fuels. One part of the agreement calls for Chenit to reduce energy consumption in its sports centre by 1 million kWh, for example, investing CHF350,000 to achieve the energy savings.