Fires lit on the mountain tops, so called High Fires, are an ancient tradition. In the middle ages the fires served as a communication and warning method in case of forthcoming danger, especially if there were enemies entering the valleys or crossing the mountain passes. This communication system worked as a chain of lights, where the first fire was followed by a nearby second, until the lightening of hundreds of fires.
Today these fires across the Alps is a strong figurative symbol for the preservation of the natural -, historical- and cultural legacy of the Alpine regions, joining the forces of the local people living in and of the mountains, environmental movements and mountain region associations.
The first of these moderns High Fires were lit in Switzerland in 1988.Today there is a chain of light along the entire Alpine arc, from Slovenia, via Vienna, as far as Nice; on far-off mountain tops and close to main cities of the Alps.
The messages from the hundreds of the High Fires of today is to encourage us, inhabitants in and visitors to the Alps, to take the future in our hands and so to engage ourselves in sustainable development.
Climate change is global, but its effects are felt locally. Climate change is affecting the Alps in many ways, from the melting of the permafrost that has hold the rocks together for thousands of years, to the volume and quality of snow. Glaciers are retreating, ice- and snow bridges are disappearing and landslides are dragging away both villages and roads. The Alps represent a highly sensitive ecosystem particularly vulnerable to the global warming. This year's High Fires, are staged by three organisations whose common aim is to protect the Alps, Alpen-Initiative, CIPRA and Mountain Wilderness Schweiz.
Kaspar Schuler, since June 2018 Director of CIPRA International, has been a participant in “Fire across the Alps” from the very beginning. Both in his role as Alpine herdsman, environmental activist and as a visitor at the event. “The fires not only draw attention to issues such as climate change and traffic congestion, they also bring people together and create a moving experience in an almost archaic setting”.
Read more about and join the event.