Bio-Montagne project

The virtual museum has been created as part of Biomontagne project, concluded in 2014 and funded by the INTERREG program ALCOTRA Italy / Switzerland 2007-2013.

Protecting and promoting biodiversity depends on a correct balance between safeguarding natural areas, raising awareness and educating both visitors and the local community. This is the concept behind the “Bio-Montagne – Réseau d’éducation sur la biodiversité dans les zones alpines” project.

Although mountain areas are considered some of the most intact and uncontaminated, they are not immune to the risks produced by mankind, with forms of development that are often not sustainable and threaten already fragile balances.

In recent years, tourism trends have brought ever increasing numbers of visitors to areas characterised by a high natural and landscape values and rich in biodiversity.

This development has made it necessary to design campaigns to raise awareness among visitors, in order to preserve our fragile biodiversity heritage. Local communities must act to rediscover and valorise their own role, taking an active part in protecting and valorising these areas.

"Bio-Montagne" is part of the 2007-2013 cross-border Italy-Switzerland cooperation framework and is envisaged as a project to protect and valorise biodiversity in the alpine environment.

Our partners in the project

The project partners closely represent the local territory, in addition to the scientific and educational community, and include:

The project's cross-border territory

The project covers the cross-border area formed from Valpelline on the Aosta Valley side to Val d'Hérens on the Swiss side.


Valpelline, located in the north of the Aosta Valley on the border with Swiss Valais, hosts the small towns of Bionaz, Doues, Oyace, Ollomont, Roisan and Valpelline, framed by some of the most important 4000 m. peaks of the Pennine Alps, including the unmistakable silhouette of the Grand Combin.

The valley has some stupendous uncontaminated natural landscapes and a high level of biodiversity, combined with an impressive and lively cultural and traditional heritage, where agriculture still plays a fundamental role defending and protecting the mountain environment.

Discovering Valpelline means travelling the splendid medium and high altitude mountain paths in the footsteps of the smugglers, discovering the Place Mulin reservoir with its turquoise waters and the warmth of the mountain refuges, but also delving deep into the roots of the area: from the traditional and rural architecture to the carnival, the dialects, traditional crafts and gourmet food and wines with the unforgettable Seuppa Valpellinentze, Fontina cheese and its maturation chambers.

Col Collon (3.114 metres), situated between Val d'Hérens and Alta Valpelline, is today a relatively quiet area, although in the past it has been the stage of an intense flow of men and beats, especially as a trade route, which paused during the Little Ice Age between 1550 and 1850 before returning as a smugglers' route.

The landscape is harsh, almost lunar, typical of the Morenic circle of an ancient glacier characterised by screes, snowdrifts and waterfalls originating from the ice melting from the glaciers.

Val d'Hérens

In the heart of the Swiss canton of Valais, Val d'Hérens runs from the plains of the Rodano valley (512 metres) to the summit of Dent-Blanche (4357 metres), in an alternation of suggestive and well-preserved natural landscapes which have won the area the status of "Natural Park Candidate". This achievement is also thanks to the attention paid to combining economic development with protection for natural and cultural values, adhering to values such as nature, culture and authenticity.

The valley runs from Sion on the valley floor, the capital of the canton, to Arolla (quota), through small towns such as Euseigne, Hémerence, Evolène, La Sage and Les Haudéres.

A wild, yet well preserved landscape and a typical territorial and geological formation marked by the rocky pyramids of Euseigne and Dent-Blanche, the glaciers of Ferpècle and Arolla, along with the vast pastures which are still present and well-kept all over Switzerland, which make this territory a unique natural splendour.

As well as the 330 km of marked paths, curious hikers will enjoy discovering: the Grande-Dixence dam, which is the highest gravity dam in the world, as well as the culture, with villages that are authentic open air museums, folklore, patois, traditional costumes and cow-fights.

For more information on the territory and to discover the characteristics elements and points of natural, cultural and traditional interest, visit:

Project activities

Digital Nature, Virtual museum and the Territorial Biodiversity Information System

The preliminary activities involve preparing and organising the heritage of information on biodiversity (museum collection databases) in order to make them available to the wider public, in the form of a model that can be transferred to other cross-border areas. This activity is required in order to create the virtual museum itself (designing and creating an information system, digitalising the collections, creating summary descriptions of the items and additional associated information).

Teaching respect for biodiversity through guided excursions and educational visits

This activity intends to stimulate a sustainable and aware use of the territory, by creating itineraries and ways of using places with a high natural value to educate and promote careful and aware enjoyment of them. It therefore involves creating additional QR code contents (a cryptographic matrix used to memorise information that can be read with a smartphone) for communicating/raising awareness among visitors, developing proposals for school trips and tourists in the area covered by the project, teaching activities and meetings with operators working in the mountains.

As part of this activity, the Efisio Noussan Regional Natural Science Museum has identified 4 excursion routs in the Valpelline area. Each one has an accompanying itinerary sheet highlighting and providing information on the natural points of interest present. Click on the following link to access to the interactive maps on support ESRI Arcgis Explorer :

1 - Crête Sèche itinerary

2 - Refuge Prarayer path

3 - Refuge Nacamuli path

4 - Refuge Aosta path

Support for raising awareness and promoting the sustainable use of natural areas

Includes communication activities to promote and lend visibility to the sustainable use of natural areas (brochures and other paper material, information and visitor welcome services).

Examples of compatibility between visiting the High Alps, the environment and biodiversity

Involves practical examples of compatibility between human activities in the High Alps, the environment and biodiversity. Respect for nature and our own contribution to maintaining biodiversity can be put into practice even when visiting the mountains for sport or competitions. An example of this is Collontrek, a competition along the old smugglers' routes....with a code of ethics.

The 22 km route runs entirely between 2.000 and 3.000 metres altitude, starting from Place Moulin (1.989 m) and finishing at 2.006 metres in Arolla, passing through the 3080 metres of Col Collon.

Since the 2013 edition, all competitors have been asked to agree to a code of ethics which sets out the universal principles of respect for the environment, nature and other people during the race.

A perfect example of integration between sporting activities in the High Alps and respect for the environment, the culture and the lives of the local populations. As a result, the Bio-Montagne cooperation project has indicated the Collontrek code of ethics as a tool for raising awareness among visitors to mountain areas of the need to protect our natural heritage.

Through the code of ethics the organisation (formed of the Grand Combin Mountain Community, the Val d'Hérens Association of Municipalities, the technical organisation and the volunteers) undertakes to preserve the territory, minimise the negative effects of the race and reduce the wastage of raw materials and energy before, during and after the race. When signing up for the race, the competitors undertake to follow the sustainability regulations, contributing to limiting the impact of their passage along the route.

For further information on the competition and its ethical approach, visit