Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilDossiers109-1A Collective Institution Metamorp...

A Collective Institution Metamorphosed. The patriziati in the Ticino Alps Between Historical Heritage and New Functions

Luigi Lorenzetti et Roberto Leggero
Traduction de Simona Cain Polli
Cet article est une traduction de :
La métamorphose d’une institution collective. Les patriziati des Alpes tessinoises, entre héritage historique et nouvelles fonctions [fr]


This article analyses the institutional evolution and transformations of the functions of the Alpine patriziati of Canton Ticino, i.e. the collective institutions which have inherited some of the goods of the former rural communities and which currently own and continue to manage a large part of the forest and alpine pasture of this Swiss canton. As corporations under public law, the patriziati have been led to broadening their functions. They have integrated those related to environmental protection and ecosystem services in addition to those related to the economic exploitation of their undivided property. The analysis tries to verify how this evolution has been influenced by the financial conditions of the patriziati and in their activities. The results suggest that financially stronger corporations are better able to integrate these new functions, thus promoting the sustainable management of their assets. However, the abandonment of two regional park projects, rejected in two popular votes, shows that the diversification of the functions of the patriziati must be embedded in inclusion processes capable of bypassing rivalries in the use of their resources.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

We are grateful to Victoria Franchi and Fausto Fornera (Dipartimento delle Istituzioni del Canton Ticino, Sezione Enti Locali), for the information and data they supplied, and Simona Cain Polli for the translation from French.


1The collective management of resources has been in the past, and continues to be today, firmly embedded in the institutional and territorial fabric of Switzerland’s alpine space. South of the Alps, it was built upon the rural communes which, since the Middle Ages, have shaped the political and economic organisation of the region (Leggero, 2018). In the early modern period, the rural communes (vicinanze) acted as the basic units of local political organisation. At the same time, they guaranteed the undivided management of collective heritage, whose production and revenues were reserved for residents recognised as fellow citizens, a status obtained mainly through agnatic descent (Arge Alp, 1988).

2Like in other regions of the old Confederation, the system underwent a powerful shake-up during the revolutionary period of the République Helvétique (1798-1803) and in the following years, when liberal attacks on the collective management of resources caused the abolition of the vicinanze, though no abolition was actually imposed on collective ownership (Caroni, 1963; Manetti, 1988; Head-König, 2003). In the alpine valleys in particular, this sort of management has survived thanks to the patriziati, namely public-law corporations which took over the care of old, undivided heritage (forests and pastureland), which today covers an area measuring 128,000 hectares, i.e., nearly half of the surface of Canton Ticino.

3In this paper we analyse the process that advanced the diversification of the functions of patriziati, attuning them with the principles of the collective management of resources as defined by E. Ostrom (1990). We will first illustrate the institutional transformations of patriziati during the 19th and 20th centuries through the legislative changes which gradually strengthened their public functions. Having done that, we will try to ascertain the effects of this evolution on their economic and financial structure. Finally, we will seek to understand to what extent the diversification of their roles is reflected in the nature of their collective action and their sustainability goals.

The patriziati within the institutional system of Switzerland and Ticino

Ticino’s communal dualism

4The evolution of the management of collective resources of patriziati is intertwined with changes in the juridical and institutional structure –at once federal, cantonal and communal– which defines their status and functions. Heralded by the short-lived Helvetic Republic, the distinction between patriziale commune (i.e., patriziato) and municipal commune was completed in 1835, further to the first Act on patriziati (LOP) (Caroni, 1964). This communal dualism produced a partitioning of the heritage of ancient rural communities. The patrimonio godibile –namely property managed collectively (woods, pastureland, alpine pasture, …)– was allocated to the patriziati, whereas the infrastructure –namely aqueducts, fountains and public wells, schools, burial grounds, roads and footpaths, etc.– was assigned to municipal communes so as to facilitate their public service functions (Caroni, 1964; Hofer, 1971; Scolari, 2003).

5For this reason, though rooted in ancient rural communities, the patriziato is in fact a new institution, created under the Helvetic Republic, then revived in 1835, only to be reinforced in subsequent years. A first milestone was reached in 1857 when the new organic law, LOP (Legge organica patriziale), granted the patriziati some public utility functions, which, consequently, brought them closer to institutions of public law (Caroni, 1964: 345-354). At the same time, the administration of their property was subjected to a number of restrictions related to the standards of federal and cantonal forestry policies. Finally, a ban was placed (in principle) on the disposal of any property owned by patriziati, as the law entitled them only to administer their patrimony (Caroni, 1963; Lorenzetti, 2019). It was at that time that the economic functions of patriziati began gradually to decline. Thus, while in 1863 there were 560 alpine pastures farmed in Ticino (most of which owned by patriziati), in 1920 their number had dropped to 400, only to slide further, to 200 in 1965 (Solari, 1966: 75). Similarly, the market value of the forest reserves of patriziati depreciated quite severely on account of the drop in demand for firewood and carpentry wood (Cima, Marci, 1980: 19; Zimmermann, 2004: 89). Generally speaking, from the end of the 19th century, the role of patriziati as suppliers of revenue and back-up equipment for the local farming economy shrank quite significantly (Biucchi, 1975: 30) and weakened even further in areas worst hit by depopulation.

New functions and new institutional collocation

  • 1 The Act also covers the development / enhancement of the cultural assets of patriziati (art. 7).
  • 2 In accordance with Art. 27 of LOP 1992, the FAP (Aid Fund for the support of patriziati) is finance (...)

6An initial response to this set of circumstances came in 1962 with the new LOP. This Act of Parliament laid the foundations for a closer cooperation between political communes and patriziati, by decreeing once and for all the public character of the latter. Cooperation between the two institutions was strengthened further by the 1992 LOP, a law which, in the wake of greater awareness of environmental issues and the development of regional tourism, extended their functions1. To this end, the Act set up a fund (FAP) to finance projects of public interest promoted by patriziati2. These measures coincided with a more direct integration of patriziati into the Canton’s institutional framework. Thus, their resources (in particular non-farming infrastructure) were subjected to the State’s eminent domain, whereby the State may order expropriation for reasons of public utility (LOP 1992, art. 11). This evolution is akin to the one characterising several common pool resources, which over time have acquired new functions dedicated to the public good (Bravo, De Moor, 2008). At the same time, it demonstrates the increased intervention of the State as a supervisory body monitoring the management and safeguard of the heritage of patriziati (Kissling-Näf, Bisang, 2001: 107; Head-König, 2020).

7Throughout this process, their autonomy – guaranteed within the boundaries set by the Cantonal and Federal law – remains intact in the legal sphere (power to issue regulations to assure their own operation), in the administrative sphere (power of issuing enforceable decisions) and in the organisational sphere. Restrictions to the transfer of their property have nonetheless been confirmed and reinforced, especially with regard to the inalienable nature of administrative assets, for which Cantonal authorisation is now required.

Ticino’s patriziati: a diversified organisation

8There are at the moment 200 public-law corporations in Ticino. Usually known as patriziati, they own most of the Canton’s woodland and pastureland, high mountain pastures and highlands. Most of these collective assets are located in the alpine regions. Hence, in the two alpine districts of Leventina and Blenio the share of surface area belonging to patriziati accounts for 80.5% and 85.1% respectively, while in the valley-bottom and hillside districts this proportion ordinarily plummets to under 30%, or even 20%.

9The eminently woodland and alpine nature of the resources of these alpine corporations has long hampered and delayed the diversification of their functions. Yet, diversification has gathered speed in recent decades, as awareness of ecological and heritage values of the natural environment has grown. Through these new functions, the assets of alpine patriziati have acquired a public character (no exclusion and no rivalry) which directly challenges their relationship with public institutions. In other words, like other Common pool resource institutions (CPRI), the patriziati of Ticino’s alpine regions, too, have been required to restate their relations with the politico-institutional system (Nahrath et al., 2012: 40; Favero et al., 2016). The question is as much about management of resources when faced with different ownership systems (Glück, 2002) as about relations with the various public authorities, namely the State, the Canton and the communes.

Financial management: facets of an evolving institution

The patriziati in the twilight of the agropastoral economy

10In the 1960s, the crisis of the traditional agropastoral economy meant that large swathes of land collectively managed by the patriziati were abandoned and their economic functions deteriorated, both at a fast pace. A Review Commission, created in the 1970s by the Ticino government to report on the state of health of patriziati, made no bones about pointing out their fragilities, which stemmed from the changes in the economic fabric and in the territorial organisation of the Canton (Biucchi, Caroni, Hofer, 1975). The depopulation of the valleys, in particular, had a knock-on effect on the number of individuals available to help run the corporations (Biucchi, 1975: 26). Besides, some corporations saw the centralisation of governance of the territory by cantonal and local institutions as an attack on their autonomy. In truth, however, often that feeling was probably connected to their loss of economic independence and to a consequent poor spirit of initiative.

  • 3 In the 1946-70 period, the patriziati reinstated 81 mountain pastures, for a total outlay of CHF 12 (...)
  • 4 Receipts per dairy cow unit, in current Swiss francs, are as follows: Valle Maggia: CHF 750-800; Bl (...)

11Although a number of patriziati were in decline, the Review Commission turned down the idea of integrating them into the political communes (Biucchi, Caroni, Hofer, 1975); one reason being that they guaranteed the communes a substantial financial discharge through the land management work they continued to carry out (Bellato, 2001: 157). The problems besetting the woodland economy notwithstanding, cattle breeding and alpine pastures raked in considerable revenues for the alpine valleys3. In 1967, net global revenue from alpine pastures was estimated to be approx. CHF 367,000 (1.2 million in today’s money) in Valle Maggia, CHF 243,000 (CHF 788,000 in today’s money) in Valle di Blenio, and CHF 661,000 (CHF 2.14 million in today’s money) in the Leventina Valley4. Put together that makes up 12-16% of the combined agricultural revenue for the three districts.

  • 5 The real estate belonging to patriziati is excluded from trading, which means that estimating their (...)

12Alongside these positive data, however, there was less gratifying news. Therefore, the net transferable value5 of the patriziati of the three alpine districts had gone from CHF 4.1 in 1956 (CHF 17.9 million in today’s money) to CHF 3.5 million in 1970 (CHF 10.6 million in today’s money), i.e., a drop of -41.8%. A particularly alarming bottom line, considering that it included the growing accumulation of mobile capitals, which in 1973 totalled CHF 2.9 million (CHF 7.1 million in today’s money) and which, according to the authors of the report, reflected a distorted notion of patriziati caused by several violations of the principle of inalienability of their property. The very structure of current receipts and expenditure of the 83 patriziati of the three alpine districts reflected increasingly acute fragilities. The positive balance of the aggregate balance sheet (Table 1) concealed the deterioration of financial situations as shown by the ratio of interest payable over total expenditure. In addition, the rent from alpine pastures provided a merely residual portion of the income from alpine patriziati.

Table 1. Structure of current receipts and expenditure of the patriziati of Leventina, Blenio, and Valle Maggia: 1969/70 (aggregate amounts in CHF 1,000)



Income from forestry


Administration and organisation


Rent from quarries


Current maintenance and construction


Rent from alpine pasture


Interests and amortisation


Rent from land


Income tax


Income from property rental


Contributions and miscellaneous


Interest and amortisation


Sundry taxes


Total ordinary receipts


Total ordinary expenditure


Operating surplus


Source : Hofer, 1975, p. 48, 49, 52.

13Overall, in the early 1970s the economic trend in general and the trend of the primary sector had eaten away at the revenue of patriziati. Consequently, these found themselves having to give up any maintenance and renovation work on their property; and likewise responding to new functions, for instance the safeguard of landscape and their natural assets, which, according to the authors of the survey, could have guaranteed their survival (Biucchi, Caroni, Hofer, 1975: 4).

Financial management of patriziati in the light of new services

14In the early 2000s, another survey helped to draw a new picture of the state of health of the 212 corporations operating in Canton Ticino. The study sought to define a strategy that, relying on the process of municipal mergers, aims to strengthen the role of patriziati as “guarantors” of land management (ALPA, 2009; Franchi, 2020). In order to identify the potential of such a strategy, the study developed a series of indicators capable of ‘measuring’ their economic strength. These indicators focus on three distinct dimensions, namely their financial robustness (which shows their activity potential); their financial situation (which refers to the structure of their finances) and their financial power (which assesses their potential for achieving revenues) (Table 2).

Table 2. Indicators of the financial situation of patriziati of the districts of Leventina, Blenio and Valle Maggia: 2005











X1 : Total expenditure

< 50,000 Fr

50-250,000 Fr

> 250,000 Fr


X2 : Own capital

< 300,000 Fr

300-500,000 Fr

> 500,000 Fr


X3 : Coverage of operating expenses(a)

< 0%

0 – 5%

> 5%


X4 : Portion of own capital(b)

< 15%

15 – 50%

> 50%


X5 : Contribution to FAP(c)

< 50

50 – 100

> 100

Financial Index If = ∑ Xi (i = 1-5)




(a): (income – expenditure) / expenditure; (b): Own capital / liabilities; (c): average = 100

Source: from ALPA, 2009.

15According to this classification, 31% of patriziati of the three alpine districts are experiencing a situation of financial fragility (If = [5-8]), 22% enjoy a sound, robust financial situation (If = [13-15]) while an average financial situation is reported for 47% of them (If = [9-12]).

16The range of financial situations is matched by the size and structure of the economic activities of the patriziati. Indeed, accounting data show considerable gaps between ‘fragile’ corporations and those described as ‘sound’. Therefore, average total amount of the main economic activities of ‘sound’ patriziati is approximately eight times higher than the one of ‘fragile’ patriziati (Table 3).

Table 3. Average worth of main economic activities of the patriziati of the districts of Leventina, Blenio, and Valle Maggia in 2005 according to their financial situation





Capital income**





Farming and alpine pastures










Services infrastructure*










Surface rights*










** p < .01 ; * p < .05

Source: ALPA, 2009.

17The discrepancies are clear (and statistically significant) for those activities that come within the infrastructure of services and for rentals, which incidentally, economically speaking, account for the most important activities. What is more, the structure of these activities itself is affected by the financial situation of the patriziati. If on the one hand within the ‘fragile’ patriziati 42% of the economic activity is made up of agriculture and alpine farming, on the other hand within the financially ‘sound’ patriziati this position barely reaches 16% (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Structure of the economic activity of patriziati in the districts of Leventina, Blenio, and Valle Maggia in 2005, according to their economic strength

Fig. 1. Structure of the economic activity of patriziati in the districts of Leventina, Blenio, and Valle Maggia in 2005, according to their economic strength

Source: data processed by ALPA, 2009.

  • 6 Between 2013 and 2017, Ticino’s patriziati promoted 652 projects, for a total amount of 136.6 milli (...)

18For the latter, activities connected to services infrastructure account for 32% of total revenue, whereas within ‘weak’ patriziati this position is a mere 10% of their activities. Are we then forced to conclude that the ‘original’ vocation of patriziati is incompatible with a sound state of health of their finances? A number of clues seem to suggest that focusing on the most profitable sectors of activity enables patriziati to create enough surplus to be ploughed back into activities connected with the alpine economy and into projects for sustainable economic development. Besides, although they represent only 35% of Ticino’s patriziati, over the 2013-2017 period, the patriziati of Leventina, Blenio, and Valle Maggia were granted 53% of FAP subsidies intended for alpine improvements, 48% of subsidies allocated for the enhancement of landscape, tourism and farming, and 57% of grants awarded for the renovation and enhancement of assets for didactic or historical-cultural purposes. At the same time, in these three districts the average levels of FAP contributions paid to projects designed to enhance landscape, tourism and farming enhancement exceed by 45% the average value of this kind of project. The financial aid provided by the FAP (and by the FGT) is therefore an increasingly significant instrument for implementing the multifunctionality of patriziati. Thus, while between 1995 and 2008 the FAP provided financial assistance to 191 projects, awarding contributions for a total of CHF 8.1 million, in the 2013 to 2017 period, the FAP granted financial aid to 110 projects, for a total of nearly CHF 3 million (Table 4) 6.

Table 4. FAP financial contributions by resource allocation in the periods 1995-2008 and 2013-17 (all projects)

Amount (Fr) Percentage





  • Alpine improvements





  • Forestry work (incl. roads and avalanche defences)





Repairs for damage to natural resources





  • Landscape, tourism, and farming development





  • Investment of common goods and real estate used according to civil law





  • Restoration and upgrading of assets for didactic or historical-cultural purposes





  • Investment of admin. goods for land improvement





  • Infrastructure(a)





  • Other / Miscellaneous





  • Total





(a) Aqueducts and cable cars.

Source: for 1995-2008, Revisione parziale della Legge organica patriziale del 28 aprile 1992 (LOP), Messaggio 6435, 21.12. 2010; for 2013-2017, Franchi, 2020.

19Between 1995-2008 and 2013-2017, the annual average number of projects supported increased from 15 to 22. Despite a noticeable drop in the average amount credited to each project (from CHF 42,487 to CHF 29,169), their distribution shows that the portion of contributions awarded to projects of alpine development and for the enhancement of landscape, tourism and farming had gone up.

Unfinished metamorphosis?

Common property and commons

20If we look at the criteria that define the Common Pool Resource Institutions (CPRI) (Ostrom, 1990), it is evident that only some of them continue to be pertinent and apply to today’s patriziati; other criteria –for instance, the dependency of users on their resources, or their autonomy vis-à-vis State regulation– no longer seem to be compatible with their present situation. This last aspect is especially noteworthy because it challenges the principle of sustainability at the heart of the management of the commons. Indeed, the new functions of public interest have significantly affected the nature of patriziati and of their resources. Created as institutional mechanisms for the management of “simple common goods” with a view to enhancing and redistributing their yield among their members, having incorporated new functions, patriziati are now set up as institutions for the administration of “complex common goods” according to the principle of multi-use of resources (Fleury et al., 2018). This evolution reflects the fact that public economic policies had assimilated the principle of ecosystem services (Costanza et al., 1998; Méral, 2012; Pettenella et al., 2012), that of supply services (water, wood, foodstuffs), of regulation (soil erosion control, CO2 absorption, water purification, …) and cultural activities (asset development, activities related to tourism, sports, leisure, …). These services are an integral part of the sustainability strategies of public policies. Yet they can be guaranteed solely on condition that the assets’ owners providing those services enter into a contract with the beneficiaries who commit to supporting the delivery of such services (Landolt, Haller, 2015; Pettenella, Bottaro, 2019) and on condition that an institutional system of resources (ISR) minimises the rivalry of uses by defining use and disposal rights (Nahrath, Bréthaut, 2016). The case of the two projects of regional nature Parks promoted in Ticino in the early 2000s, but each time thrown out by two referenda, in November 2016 and in June 2018, is a clear example of this sort of dynamics.

Rivalries and failed roles: the case of regional Nature Parks

21The ecosystem services acquired by the patriziati extended the space available to those who make use of their resources, no longer limited to the “rightful claimants” (i.e., the patrizi) but now including the whole of the public community. This evolution has fostered new rivalries, which, in the case of the patriziati assets, juxtapose groups of users making different uses of the same resource (Nahrath, Bréthaut, 2016).

  • 7 Park Adula was originally designed to cover an area of 1250, including the territories of 17 (...)
  • 8 Parco del Locarnese stretched over an area of 218, to include seven communes in the Locarno d (...)

22This is what emerged in the process of examining some projects for regional nature parks that concerned two mountain regions of Ticino, namely Park Adula7 and Parco del Locarnese8 (Fig. 2). Both projects were the result of the revision of the 2005 Federal Act on the safeguard of nature and landscape and of the 2007 Federal Ordinance on parks of national importance (Kupper, 2018). As such, they ought to have erased all rivalries of use, by enhancing the qualities of nature and landscape of both territories, and encouraged the sustainable development of their economies. In accordance with federal government standards, each park should have comprised two separate zones, namely a peripheral area, where existing economic activities could carry on, and a central zone, where natural processes could evolve freely. It was this zone that kindled new rivalries, as the patriziati feared they would be banned from conducting any economic activities. This is why the patriziato generale of Aquila, Torre and Lottigna – which owns at least half of the central zone of Park Adula – granted its support to the project on condition and with the proviso that they would be allowed to continue farming on their six alpine pastures, and that all infrastructure related to their operations would be preserved, together with the right to ensure any necessary maintenance work. Similarly, the patriziato of Losone granted its support to the Parco del Locarnese project on two conditions: that an area of wet grassland frequented by the locals be separated from the central zone; and that they would be granted permission to (selectively) hunt wild boars, responsible for much damage to farming crops.

Figure 2. Regional nature parks project in Tecino

Figure 2. Regional nature parks project in Tecino

23The support assured by the patriziati of Blenio and of Locarnese to the two projects suggests that their conditions could be met. And this, despite the fact that the charter of Parc Adula called for a reduction in the grazing area of the central zone9. In the end, the executives of the corporations concerned by the two projects were able to look on the ecosystem services promoted by the parks, not as sources of rivalry, but as an opportunity to accomplish the diversification of their functions through initiatives of public interest.

24How to account for the fact that they were rejected by popular vote on two occasions? Though hard to give a definitive answer, various clues point to the difficulty of recognising the two projects –like any collective action– as being the outcome of a bottom-up process. Having been conceived around lands that for centuries were managed as common goods, the two projects faced a conflict, between the principle of self-organisation and of autonomy vis-à-vis state regulation and the need to be certified by federal authorities on the basis of a top-down process. The ‘low profile’ of patriziati may therefore signal that they felt uneasy in the role of mediators between the commune and the political-administrative bodies at the cantonal and federal levels. Besides, the life of patriziati in the 20th century was characterised by ‘political’ devitalisation, which nearly undid any nesting of functions and phenomena of multipositionality, which, in different contexts, had secured major mediation roles for the corporation in public policies of land and resource management (Nahrath et al., 2012: 44-49). The feeble voice of patriziati during the campaigns promoting the two parks might bring into question their potential for inclusion and as vehicles of territorial construction.


25Human institutions, though a cultural product, will diversify their functions, forms, and nature to respond and adjust to social needs. This is the case of Ticino’s patriziati, which over the past 50 years have undergone radical changes but at the same time acquired new functions. The downturn experienced by mountain economies in the first half of the 20th century damaged their nature, dented their capacity for social integration and encouraged contravening one of the principles of collective management, namely the obligation to preserve the common goods. As environmental awareness grew, it became clear that patriziati could be properly safeguarded only by collaborating with public bodies, to ensure closer relations between management, enhancement and protection of the land. This outlook assumes that new instruments are developed, capable of ‘correcting’ the limitations of the market, limitations due to traditional methods of supply of goods and ecosystem services, and of promoting the production of environmental externalities usable by the market. The FAP, created in Ticino to support the activities and projects of patriziati, is an answer to this type of problem, integrating as it does the logic of paying for ecosystem services. And yet, the rejection, in Ticino, of two projects of regional nature parks shows that such an approach is beholden to the effectiveness of the inclusion dynamics and bargaining power of the different components of the local communities.

Haut de page


Alleanza patriziale ticinese [ALPA], 2009.– Visioni e prospettive per il Patriziato ticinese. Studio strategico, Bellinzona, Dipartimento delle istituzioni della Repubblica e Cantone del Ticino.

Arge Alp, 1988.– Die ländliche Gemeinde – Il comune rurale. Historikertagung in Bad Ragaz – Convegno storico di Bad Ragaz, 16.-18. X. 1985, Bozen, Athesia.

Bellato P., 2001.– « Il Patriziato nel diritto pubblico ticinese », in Amministrare. Rivista quadrimestrale dell’Istituto per la Scienza dell'Amministrazione pubblica, 1, p. 153-170.

Biucchi B. M., 1975.– « L’economia dei patriziati », in Documenti della Commissione di studio sul patriziato ticinese, Relazione preliminare parte seconda, Bellinzona, Dipartimento dell’Interno del Cantone Ticino, p. 3-143.

Biucchi B., Caroni P. Hofer A., 1975.– « Conclusioni generali e proposte sul problema patriziale », in Documenti della Commissione di studio sul patriziato ticinese, Relazione preliminare parte seconda, Bellinzona, Dipartimento dell’Interno del Cantone Ticino, p. 1-26.

Bravo, G., De Moor T., 2008.– « The Commons in Europe: From Past to Future », in International Journal of the Commons, vol. 2, n. 2, p. 155-161.

Caroni P., 1963.– “La scissione fra comune patriziale e comune politico nel Ticino”, in Archivio Storico Ticinese, 15, p. 743-763.

Caroni P., 1964.– Le origini del dualismo comunale svizzero. Genesi e sviluppo della legislazione sui comuni promulgata dalla Repubblica Elvetica con speciale riguardo allo sviluppo ticinese, Milano, Giuffré.

Cima T. Marci A., 1980.– « La funzione dei patriziati nell’economia ticinese », in Rivista patriziale ticinese, 1, p. 13-20.

Costanza, R., R. d’Arge, R. de Groot, S. F. M. Grasso, B. Hannon, K. Limburg, S. Naeem, R. V. O’Neill, J. Paruelo, R. G. Raskin, P. Sutton, M. van den Belt, 1998.–, « The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital », in Ecological Economics, vol. 25, p. 3-15.

Favero, M., Gatto, P., Deutsch, N., Pettenella, D., 2016.– « Conflict or synergy? Understanding interaction between municipalities and village commons (regole) in polycentric governance of mountain areas in the Veneto Region, Italy », in International Journal of the Commons, vol. 10, n. 2, p. 821-853 (on-line, URL:

Fleury Ph., Houdart M., Lasseur J., et all., 2018.– « Gestion de l’environnement et valorisation des produits de l’élevage de montagne au regard de la théorie des communs », in Géocarrefour, 92/3 (2018) (on-line : geocarrefour/10925).

Franchi V., 2020.– Studio strategico sui Patriziati 2020, Bellinzona, Repubblica e cantone del Ticino, Dip. delle istituzioni, Sezione degli enti locali, 2020. (on-line, URL :

Glück P., 2002.– « Property rights and multipurpose mountain forest management », in Forest Policy and Economics, vol. 4, n. 2, p. 125-134.

Head-König A.-L., 2003.– “Les biens communaux en Suisse au XVIIIe et XIXe siècles : enjeux et controverses”, in Demélas, M.-D., Vivier, N. (sous la dir. de), Les propriétés collectives face aux attaques libérales (1750-1914). Europe occidentale et Amérique latine, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, p. 99-118.

Head-König A.-L., 2020.– « L’improbabile uguaglianza : comuni patriziali, corporazioni comunali e comunità di godimento tra XIX e XXI sec. », in Lorenzetti L. (a cura di), Le Alpi di Clio. Scritti per i venti anni del Laboratorio di Storia delle Alpi : incontri, confronti, itinerari, 2000-2020, Bellinzona, A. Dadò editore, p. 117-128.

Hofer A., 1971.– Funzioni e importanza dei patriziati nell’economia sopracenerina attuale (con particolare riguardo all’evoluzione del periodo 1957-1967, Friburgo Università di Friburgo (Tesi scienze economiche e sociali).

Hofer A., 1975.– « Le finanze dei patriziati », in Documenti della Commissione di studio sul patriziato ticinese, Relazione preliminare parte terza, Bellinzona, Dipartimento dell’Interno del Cantone Ticino, p. 5-63.

Kissling-Näf I., Bisang K., 2001.– « Rethinking recent changes of forest regime in Europe through property-rights theory and policy analysis », in Forest Policy and Economics, 3, p. 99-111.

Kupper P., 2018.– « Le mouvement des Parcs » in Mathieu J., Backhaus N., Hürlimann K., Bürgi M. (dir.), Histoire du paysage en Suisse, Neuchâtel, Alphil, p. 349-363.

Landolt G., Haller T., 2015.– “Alpine common property institutions under change: conditions of successful and unsuccessful collective action by alpine farmers in the Canton of Grisons”, in Human organization, vol. 74, n. 1, p. 100-111.

Leggero R., 2018.– Domatori dei principi. E altre note di storia svizzera (secoli XII-XVI), Udine, Forum.

Lorenzetti L., 2019.– « Beni comuni e diritti d’uso nelle terre ticinesi dell’Otto e Novecento : i percorsi carsici della proprietà divisa », in Archivio Scialoja-Bolla. Annali di studi sulla proprietà collettiva, p. 77-101.

Manetti S., 1988.– “Riforme agrarie e fondiarie nel Ticino dell’Ottocento. L’opzione privatistica”, in Martinengo E. (a cura di), Le Alpi per l’Europa : una proposta politica. Economia, territorio e società, istituzioni, politica e società, Milano, Jaca Book, p. 359-384.

Méral Ph., 2012.– « Le concept de service écosystémique en économie : origine et tendances récentes », in Natures Sciences Sociétés, vol. 20, n. 1, p. 3-15.

Nahrath S., Gerber J.-D., Knoepfel P., Bréthaut Ch., 2012.– « Gestion des ressources communes en Suisse : le rôle des institutions de gestion communautaire dans les politiques environnementales et d’aménagement du territoire », in Natures Sciences Sociétés, 20, p. 39-51.

Nahrath S., Gerber J. D., 2014.– « Pour une approche ressourcielle du développement durable », in Développement durable et territoires, vol. 5, n. 2, p. 1-19 (on-line, URL :

Nahrath, S., Bréthaut, C., 2016.– « La coordination entre régimes institutionnels de ressources comme condition d’une gestion durable des ressources touristiques alpines. Le cas de Crans-Montana (Suisse) », in Revue de géographie alpine, t. 104, n. 3, p. 1-20.

Ostrom E., 1990.– Governing the Commons. The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Pettenella D., Bottaro G., 2019.– « Servizi ecosistemici. Chi paga ? », in Dislivelli. Ricerca e comunicazione sulla montagna, 98, p. 3-7.

Pettenella D., Gatto P., Secco L., Vidale E., 2012.– « Strumenti innovativi per le politiche della montagna : pagamenti per i servizi ambientali », in Varotto M., Castiglioni B. (a cura di), Di chi sono le Alpi ? Appartenenze politiche, economiche e culturali nel mondo alpino contemporaneo, Padova, Padova University Press, p. 117‐131.

Scolari G., 2003.– Il patriziato ticinese, identità, pratiche sociali, interventi pubblici, Locarno, A. Dadò.

Solari R., 1966.– Vent’anni di miglioramento alpestre nel cantone Ticino : 1946-1966, Bellinzona, Fotoprint.

Zimmermann R. C., 2004.– The common-property forests of Canton Ticino, Southern Switzerland: relations between a traditional institution and modern State, 1803-2003, Montréal.

Haut de page


1 The Act also covers the development / enhancement of the cultural assets of patriziati (art. 7).

2 In accordance with Art. 27 of LOP 1992, the FAP (Aid Fund for the support of patriziati) is financed by contributions from patriziati whose annual net income exceeds CHF 5,000 and by an equivalent contribution from the Canton. All net income resulting from the sale of heritage property, from return on capital, rentals or surface rights is subject to this levy. The Fund, therefore, steps in to subsidise the most fragile patriziati, applying the equalisation principle. In February 2012, Ticino’s Parliament set up a second Fund, to provide support to territorial management (FGT), in particular dedicated to financially supporting measures and projects of management and maintenance of the land and its resources, promoted in the framework of the collaboration between patriziati and communes.

3 In the 1946-70 period, the patriziati reinstated 81 mountain pastures, for a total outlay of CHF 12.5 million (Cima, Marci, 1980: 17)

4 Receipts per dairy cow unit, in current Swiss francs, are as follows: Valle Maggia: CHF 750-800; Blenio: CHF 750; Leventina: CHF 1,050.

5 The real estate belonging to patriziati is excluded from trading, which means that estimating their commercial value proves rather difficult, not to say inadequate since the value and utility components, such as soil protection and ecological and landscape quality, cannot be taken into account and quantified (Biucchi, 1975: 32).

6 Between 2013 and 2017, Ticino’s patriziati promoted 652 projects, for a total amount of 136.6 million francs. 529 projects were carried out through self-financing, or with the support of other private or public funds (in other words, independently of FAP or FGT).

7 Park Adula was originally designed to cover an area of 1250, including the territories of 17 communes spread across the Blenio Valley (Ticino), Val Calanca, Val Mesolcina, Rheinwald and Surselva (Grisons). Cf.

8 Parco del Locarnese stretched over an area of 218, to include seven communes in the Locarno district and one commune in Valle Maggia and 12 patriziati. Cf.

9 . The Federal Ordinance on parks of national importance imposes, for all central zones, a ban on all farming or forestry activities, but does not stop pastoral farming in clearly delimited areas (Art. 17).

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1. Structure of the economic activity of patriziati in the districts of Leventina, Blenio, and Valle Maggia in 2005, according to their economic strength
Crédits Source: data processed by ALPA, 2009.
Fichier image/png, 40k
Titre Figure 2. Regional nature parks project in Tecino
Fichier image/png, 230k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Luigi Lorenzetti et Roberto Leggero, « A Collective Institution Metamorphosed. The patriziati in the Ticino Alps Between Historical Heritage and New Functions »Journal of Alpine Research | Revue de géographie alpine [En ligne], 109-1 | 2021, mis en ligne le 08 mai 2021, consulté le 24 juin 2024. URL : ; DOI :

Haut de page


Luigi Lorenzetti

Laboratorio di Storia delle Alpi, Università della Svizzera italiana. Mendrisio (Suisse).

Articles du même auteur

Roberto Leggero

Laboratorio di Storia delle Alpi, Università della Svizzera italiana. Mendrisio (Suisse).

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur


Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

Haut de page
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search