In the Swiss canton of Uri historically and ecologically significant stone walls have been restored

Bümausa project.Bümausa project.

Most of them are type dry stone, where the stones are merely stacked one on top of the other

Bürglen is a small village in the Swiss canton of Uri. It calls itself the home of William Tell, the country’s national hero: that is the one where the apple on top of the child’s head was the target, and therefore calls its newsletter “Tell Me“ (pun intended). In that publication, one could recently read about the project Bümausa, an acronym for Bürgler Mauersanierung. This refers to the restoration of old stone walls in the village and the surrounding area that had been left to decay for many decades and whose historical and ecological value has now been rediscovered.

A total of 254 walls have been restored over a distance of 8.9 km. In addition, there are ramparts clearance cairn consisting of clearance stones.

The walls were formerly used to demarcate plots of land or to terrace steep terrain. Clearance stones are small chunks that farmers fished out of their fields and meadows over many centuries to improve the farmland. Similar initiatives already existed in the neighboring villages of Altdorf and Silenen.

Most of them are dry stone walls, where the stones are only stacked on top of one another. However, there are also parts that are reinforced with mortar.

Bümausa project.Bümausa project.

Either way, these constructions are important habitats for plants and animals: mosses, lichens or plants specialized in extreme locations take advantage of the fact that the stones are porous, store rainwater and thus help the vegetation to survive dry periods.

This, in turn, attracts insects. Many small animals, such as lizards, target them. They find shelter in the cracks between the stones from birds or other species that are higher in food height and feed on them.

A particularly striking section of the rehabilitated route is Franzosengasse in Bürglen. It is part of a historic pilgrimage trail (from Bürglen Church to Riedertal Chapel) and has national significance. On both sides of the path, there are the walls.

The total cost of the project was 612,000 Swiss francs (approx. US-$693,000). In addition to the municipality and the canton, various organizations also participated in the financing. Also, the local residents participated with their own contributions.

Bürglen (German)

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(24.11.2023, USA: 11.24.2013)