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The virgin forest of Derborence

The Derborence valley offers an amazing landscape: the enormous landslide in 1714 and 1749, the formation of the lake, the virgin forest, the walls of the Massif des Diablerets, etc.

Since 1959, the LSPN (Pro Natura) has benefited from restrictions made on the lake and its surroundings, and has acquired the south side of the virgin forest, the Alpage de Vérouet as well as the Alpage de Fénadze.

The virgin forest, heart of the reserve, is called Ecorcha or Ecorchia. It covers an area of 25 hectares and contains monumental conifers (up to 450 years of age and over 40 meters high). All the trees are listed for long term scientific observation. This forest owes the preservation of its original character to the difficulty of access and transportation of wood. 

The forest is ecologically stable and does not need any maintenance under normal conditions. It plays a very important role as a witness to the effects of long term air pollution.


The virgin forest of Derborence, home to the richest vegetal species in Switzerland, is probably unique in the Alps, because it regenerates itself. Strong seedlings grow on the decaying trunks of fallen trees. Elsewhere, on the steepest rocky slopes and on the peeks, dried steppes composed of species that are typical to the Central Valais flora (Artemisia, Uvette or Téléphium) flourish. On the other hand, the humid climate of the Prealps permits the development of the only Beech tree forest in Central Valais. The influence of the lake (the youngest natural lake in Europe) on the vegetation is limited to the presence of a thin rim of marsh plants, with among them, a rarity only known by botanists: the Cicely. Derborence has attracted numerous scholars, including Thomas Blaikie, a Scottish gardener who was certainly the first to come to collect alpine plants for the botanical garden in London, in 1775.