Azara Blog: Ski resorts and ecology do not mix

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Date published: 2005/04/18

The BBC says:

The impacts of ski piste preparation on alpine plants are long-lasting and greatest at higher altitudes, Swiss researchers report.

The effects are likely to worsen as global warming forces ski operators to use more artificial snow and open higher runs, the scientists say.

They compared the vegetation on and off-piste at 12 Swiss ski resorts, in the biggest study of its kind.

Overall, they found 9% less plant cover and 11% fewer plant species on-piste.

Their study, published online in the Journal of Applied Ecology, also showed 17% less plant biomass on ski pistes, with woody plants and early-flowering species worst-affected.

Is this supposed to be surprising? You just have to look at ski slopes in summer to be able to see writ large what damage they do to mountains. But the Alps are not mountain-to-mountain ski slopes, so this hardly seems like a great issue.

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