The Swiss Alps are one of the most magnificent landscapes in the world, displaying an enormous diversity of animal and plant species. Along with chamois and marmots, rare plants like edelweiss and gentian are native here. In summer, the mountain pastures are transformed into a colorful sea of flowers. For many people, this mountain landscape is nature in its purest form.
But this mountain pasture paradise is actually man-made. It’s only because the mountain farmers have been driving their livestock up into the mountains for centuries that this special mosaic of meadow, forest, and rock has come into being. Without grazing, it would take only a few decades for the meadows to be overgrown with scrub and forest. Plants, insects, and bird species would disappear; the natural and leisure landscape would be lost.
And that’s a very real threat. The life of the mountain farmers is hard; many are giving up their farms. Others keep going but no longer drive their animals up into the mountain pastures in summer. The forest is encroaching more and more. But the Swiss have recognized the danger and are coming up with new approaches to preserving their enchanting mountain world.
The film accompanies Lean, a shepherd who spends the summer high up in the mountains with 900 sheep, as shepherds have done before her for hundreds of years. It shows the lengths the Swiss are going to, to maintain their ancient traditions. This includes state subsidies for the mountain farmers as well as opening up new markets for the wool of Swiss sheep. The common goal is to find innovative ways of preserving the unique landscape of the Swiss Alps for future generations.