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Transhumance in the Alps

Kulturverein Schnals & Pro Vita Alpina

The transhumance in the Ötztal Alps (inscribed on the RL in 2019) is a special form of transhumance for two reasons: first, the sheep are driven over mountain passes and glaciers in the Alps (in June and September). Second, it is a cross-border transhumance from two valleys in Italy (Schnalstal and Passeier valley) to the allocated summer pastures in the Ötztal valley in Austria. Both countries adopted safety measures in March 2020, including full lockdowns, travel restrictions and completely sealing their borders, to contain the new coronavirus. The practitioners are still confident that the ICH will not be disrupted by the virus (it was also continued all through World War II and the political unrests in the 1960s). They expect, however, that the shepherds and drivers (and the animals) will not be accompanied by anyone this time and that they will need to maintain a distance between each other. Such measures can be followed as the shepherds from Italy are moving across the mountain passes and glaciers and will not enter the valleys in Austria. This means they would have no contact to other people. It is still uncertain, however, if the mountain huts will be hosting the traditional lunch for the group (due to preventative measures), which is an important ritual for the community.

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