Valais, Suonenlandschap. Foto: TES.

The Suonen of Valais

The region around Visp (Viège), Raron (Raronge), the Lötschberg (Steg-Hohtenn and Niedergestein) and the Baltschiedertal in the canton Valais is a dry ara in the valley of the Rhone basin. The dry and mild climate creates good viticulture, agriculture and cattle breeding conditions.

Suonen (bisses in French) Irrigated the land. Suonen are wooden or stone irrigation systems that lead water from the source (glaciers, springs and streams) to the agricultural areas.

The Suonen system (Suonenlandschaft) was once thousands of kilometres long at the foot of glaciers or springs. Water from the glaciers is rich in minerals and natural fertiliser. It has resulted in fertile agricultural and wine-growing land and a great diversity of flora.

Modern methods, such as water cannons and sprinkler systems, irrigate the fields today. Nevertheless, about 2 000 kilometres of traditional Suones still function.

The Canton of Valais maintains them as a cultural heritage. Various hiking trails follow the paths of the Suonen through beautiful areas. Today, the Suonen have an additional function: they produce energy for houses and villages.

(Source and further information: