Rio Ram: hydropower or biosphere?
It is 24 km long, flows through two states, has three names and is one of the few rivers still in close to natural conditions in the Alps: it is the river Ram (Rambach in German, Romansh Rom) into Münstertal / CH. On the banks of Ram grows endangered plants, such as the Myricaria germanica. The river was therefore modeled in the Alpine Econnect project, which aims to improve ecological connectivity. The Ram is one of the last rivers flowing into a main valley of the Alps without being tapped by hydroelectric plants. Precisely for this reason, the Val Müstair had decided to establish a biosphere reserve.
Things are different across the border in the South Tyrolean side, where the river Ram may be used to produce electricity. But not everyone agrees, so in autumn 2011 an extensive comparison between the different interest groups within the "Dialogue for the future of the river Ram" has begun.
The result is a cost-benefit analysis that considers various scenarios. The scenario "cross-border biosphere reserve" is the cheaper option: cross-border protected area would greatly increase the quality of life of residents and the region would acquire an international profile. The resulting protection of the watercourse is already a staple of the concept of sustainable tourism in the Swiss side.
The last word (for now) between hydropower and conservation lies with the South Tyrolean population residing in the valley of the river Ram: municipalities have announced an upcoming referendum.