Citizen Participation: A Path to Face Decreasing Snow in Balderschwang

Aug 23, 2023

Amidst the Nature Park, Nagelfluhkette” lies the highest municipality in Germany, known as a place, where snow has been guaranteed in winter, up until now. Due to climate change the guaranty of snow in Balderschwang is decreasing. Snowy days are becoming fewer, winters milder and the season for winter tourism is getting shorter. At the same time, the community is highly dependent on tourism as its main source of income. This is why the citizens of Balderschwang are committed to finding new perspectives for (winter) tourism.

In order to shape the future of Balderschwang with a participatory approach, two groups were founded this year: The “Competence Team Tourism” consists of stakeholders and citizens from Balderschwang who are affected by tourism. The “Generation Future” is formed by the youth of Balderschwang.

On July 7th and 8th 2023, the first workshops took place within the framework of the BeyondSnow project, with support of our partner, the Community Network “Alliance in the Alps”. With around 370 inhabitants, the community is relatively small, which is why the number of participants in the workshops was extremely gratifying. 43 people from Balderschwang filled the community center that weekend to have fruitful discussions about their future.

Together with Phillip Corradini, a representative from the Lead Partner EURAC Research, the project and goals of BeyondSnow were presented. Afterwards, visions for a Balderschwang 2050 were developed, including wishes and needs that people in Balderschwang would personally like to see in their hometown and for local tourism. It was very exciting to get to know the municipality of Balderschwang and its citizens and an important step towards a good cooperation with the pilot working area.

In the fall AidA will apply the sensitive diagnosis-method and do interviews with certain stakeholders, to get an unfiltered impression of the destination and where it needs to change and develop. Both groups will meet regularly to discuss local politics in Balderschwang in addition to the project-based topics.