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Pastoralism and agriculture

Immerse yourself in the world of our breeders and farmers, explore their essential role in preserving our Alpine landscapes, and learn how their passion translates into quality products that delight our senses and tell an ancestral story.

Exemplary water management

Good management of water resources is a major issue in Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc, between climate change, energy production and local food supply…

In the mountains, and particularly in Saint-Gervais, the environment has a direct impact on water management, little visible because well-integrated, irrigation infrastructures ensure water supply whatever the specificities of the terrain.

Prarion sector

On the right bank, the water comes from Bionnassay, at 1400 m altitude. It is collected and pumped up to the Col de Voza at 1600 m, where a 200,000-liter reservoir is located, supplying the inhabitants year-round and the Prarion mountain pastures and Bellevue in addition in summer.

Mont d'Arbois sector

90% of the mountain pastures are communal, and all have their own water supply. The area includes 3 hillside reservoirs. The three reservoirs provide an adequate year-round water supply, and there are no plans to build new reservoirs. However, this implies real management of the resource during the winter: the snow groomers are all equipped with gps to measure the height of the snowpack and adjust the production of artificial snow. Over time, the snow melts and returns to the natural environment, the water not actually being “consumed” but temporarily “withdrawn”


Truc sector

On the right bank of the torrent, a 200,000-liter cistern stored water until spring from the spring located 50 m above the alpine pasture. In spring 2021, the GAEC du Vivier has asked the commune to increase the water supply for this communal alpage, which is home to dairy cows, milked at the mountain pasture.

Alpine pastures a necessary resource

Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc makes a point of strengthening mountain agriculture by reinvigorating pastoral activity and life in the mountain pastures. By supporting young farmers as they set up dairy farms in the mountains, while at the same time pursuing a policy of buying up local farmland, the commune of Saint-Gervais invests in mountain pastures in order to preserve this unique and fragile resource, which certainly benefits farmers and the local economy, but also wildlife, tourism and the environment.

The presence of the wolf a complex subject

It’s a fact: the wolf is back, and its presence is having a serious impact on the countryside, pastoralism and tourism. The confirmed return of the large predator is already jeopardizing an entire section of the Commune’s agropastoral activity, causing sheep breeders to flee or give up. The immediate effects are detrimental to the development of agriculture in Saint-Gervais, but worse are the medium-term consequences for mountain development and the sustainability of the alpine pastures, since if they are no longer exploited, they will become wastelands and no one will clear the brush instead of the sheep and large herbivores: the forest will take over, effectively preventing the installation of new breeders.

The overgrowth of alpine pastures will hinder the development of tourism and render certain areas of the ski area unusable. Faced with this problem, the town of Saint-Gervais is strongly committed to supporting pastoralism on its territory. One response to the return of the wolf is the presence of guard dogs among the herds. These dogs, often patous, can pose a few difficulties for those who frequent the mountains. To improve cohabitation between the activities of breeders and outdoor enthusiasts, a few instructions
should be followed when approaching a herd.


Investments to sustain business

Each year, at the end of the summer season, the town of Saint-Gervais organizes the traditional “alpages tour” to meet farmers and exchange views with them in the field. This visit is an opportunity for the commune to adapt to farmers’ projects and invest in the mountain pastures in an intelligent way. Numerous facilities for alp farmers have been created, including:

  • Renovation of the Joux alpage.
  • Renovation of the Pierre du Déjeuner alpage.
  • Construction of the Are shepherd’s hut.
  • Financing of the milking shelter on the Miage alpage.