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Two Ambassadors for Sustainability

Cross-country Olympic medallist and world champion Dario Cologna and Liza Andrea Kuster, Miss Earth Switzerland 2010/11, act as ambassadors for the protection forest project. Having grown up in Switzerland’s Münstertal, Dario Cologna has known the dangers of the mountains since childhood. Model and presenter Liza Andrea Kuster has recently dedicated herself completely to the topic of sustainability.

19 November 2012, text: Andreas Notter, photos: Helvetia/Markus Aebischer

Liza Andrea Kuster and Dario Cologna act as ambassadors for the protection forest project.
Liza Andrea Kuster and Dario Cologna act as ambassadors for the protection forest project.

Liza Andrea Kuster, you are perhaps best known for your role on the SF series “Schweiz Aktuell im Wald – Die Hüttenbauer” (“Switzerland in the Forest Today – the Hut-Builders”). You seem to have a special affinity with forests.

Liza Andrea Kuster (LAK): Yes. For me, forests and nature in general stand for life, freedom, and protection. I enjoy the energy and power that forests project. When I am with the hut-builders, the trees shield me from wind and rain. I’m committed to helping preserve nature and our forests as much as I can.

Dario Cologna, why are you involved with the protection forests?

Dario Cologna (DC): I think that Helvetia’s protection forest advocacy is a good thing. The cause suits me well since I grew up in the mountains.

How about you, Liza Andrea?

LAK: I find Helvetia’s protection forest advocacy a wise and agreeable idea because forests provide people with natural protection against some of nature’s hazards, and they also create more habitats for animals. It’s good for the environment, and it helps foster biodiversity as well. Helvetia’s commitment raises public awareness about protection forests through the media, word-of-mouth, etc. It’s really a win-win situation, however you look at it!

On your website, you describe yourself as a “model and presenter for sustainability”. How do you put this philosophy into practice?

LAK: Every day, I try to be authentic and support sustainable and environmentally friendly products in particular, such as in the clothing industry (eco-fashion). I am constantly gathering knowledge so that I can raise awareness with more people. I do it for fun and because it’s my passion. I spend one percent of my pay on a range of environmental projects. Not because I have to, but because it’s what I really want to do.
Sustainability is also important for me when it comes to my commitment to Helvetia: after St. Moritz and Interlaken, I will be serving as a protection forest ambassador in Visp for the third time.

Is your role as a protection forest ambassador for the Helvetia project well received in the modelling business?

LAK: Definitely. I’ve been building bridges since I was a child: between rich and poor, between the Philippines and Switzerland. Building bridges is part of my career and life philosophy. Connecting “glitz and glamour” with sustainability is something I believe in, so I do it with conviction. I am proud and feel honoured to be a part of Helvetia’s protection forest advocacy, and I am one thousand percent on board with it.

Dario, you grew up in Val Müstair and still live in Grisons. How do people cope with the dangers of the mountains?

DC: People are aware of them, especially last winter when we got so much snow. But I have complete trust in the forest authorities and the efficacy of the protection forest. It’s different if you’re above the tree line, like on a skiing expedition. The threat of avalanches is a constant concern. I know people who’ve been in avalanches before and were very lucky.

How important is the protection forest for skiers?

DC: You take the protection the forest offers for granted, even though you shouldn’t. In fact, cross-country ski trails in particular are often exposed. So you have to be sure that you’re constantly well informed, particularly if you don’t know the area and are skiing off-piste.

Protection forests are extremely sensitive to climate changes. Does this worry you?

DC: As a winter sports athlete, climate change is obviously a concern for me, but more because of the effect on the snow. We have to go to higher and higher elevations in order to train. Ten years ago, I was training on glaciers that have since melted away. That does worry me a bit.

LAK: “Worry” isn’t quite the right word for me. It’s more of a feeling of motivation to do my part to reduce climate change, even if by only a little. We really need to understand that climate change will affect our daily life in the near future (if it isn’t doing that already!). We shouldn’t wait until it’s too late. That’s why I’m happy about Helvetia’s commitment.

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