In terms of wildlife, an initiative in the Valais commune of Vernayaz to create wetlands and widen the Lantze canal has led to the return of a family of castors. These skillful builders make a significant contribution to local biodiversity. By building a dam, they have ensured the creation of dynamic new habitats in the water and along the banks. "The natural revitalisation of this canal is attracting many walkers, who have reclaimed this area for their leisure activities," enthuses Grégory Borgeat, local councillor and head of land development and energy for the commune of Vernayaz.
In terms of flora, the redevelopment of the Saxon canals has yielded a pleasant surprise. During the visit on 14 September 2023, the federal and cantonal authorities and nature conservation organisations (WWF and Pro Natura) were delighted to discover a blackstonia acuminata. This plant, classified as an endangered subspecies by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has appeared thanks to the creation of temporarily flooded and nutrient-depleted environments. This remarkable success requires careful monitoring to ensure its preservation and the wild character of the area.
Xavière Schröder mentions the importance of regular monitoring, pointing: "We need to leave the areas as natural as possible to ensure the continued success of these environmental initiatives”. A variety of methods are used, including periodic flora and fauna inventories, water quality analyses and assessments of habitat dynamics. By closely monitoring the situation, "we can adjust our actions and, if necessary, carry out maintenance to ensure that the objectives set are achieved", adds Xavière Schröder. Preserving nature and the delicate ecosystems created within these defined perimeters also means minimising human impact. For example, the local community is sensitized about the wilderness and the need to respect its tranquility, through information for households or on-site signage.
Xavière Schröder, environmental project manager at Alpiq, has a dual role to play. She helps to ensure that watercourses are ecologically sound and to create wetlands that allow threatened species to recolonise sites. She also promotes the production of renewable energy, such as hydroelectricity, by coordinating the implementation and monitoring of environmental compensation measures. Alpiq is carrying out this mandate for the Nant de Drance company with the support of the Grenat sàrl environmental bureau. "The success of these environmental compensation measures lies in constructive dialogue with nature protection organisations, the political authorities and the local population," stresses the project manager.