ENSA emphasizes the environmental impacts of ski resorts


Skiing and snowboarding can make up for a memorable winter vacation in Chamonix, but we constantly need to remind ourselves that the mountain, with its majestic wildlife, does not belong to one individual in particular, but to all of us, future generations included.

Therefore, it is essential to consider the negative effects that skiing might have on the natural habitat, both flora and fauna.

To reflect on the less pleasant consequences of a vacation in the Alpes, ENSA (Ski and Mountaineering School, original fr.: L’école de ski et d’alpinisme) has hosted last night the conference called: "Sports and Wildlife in Winter".

flora/ landscape in Chamonix, Mont-Blanc
Black grouse in Mont Blanc
Mountain Goat in Chamonix, Mont Blanc
flora/ landscape in Chamonix, Mont-Blanc
Black grouse in Mont Blanc
Mountain Goat in Chamonix, Mont Blanc

Four ENSA speakers participated last night to raise awareness of the negative impacts of ski resorts on the environment.

Christelle Bakhache, who is in charge of natural sports mission at Asters, the Conservatory of Natural Areas in Haute-Savoie, draw attention to how climate changes affect winter sports practices, determining snow enthusiasts to climb at higher altitudes. But how does this affect the wildlife?

Ecologist Daniel Rodrigues presented an anthology of endangered species, including the black grouse. Researches of negative impacts of skiing on wildlife had shown that stress levels in black grouse were increased by disturbance from skiers and snowboarders. This might account for the sporadic population of black grouse in the Alpes and it might also be applied to other species of birds.

Le Dauphine

What can be done to preserve the natural habitat while still enjoying winter sports in Chamonix?

When skiing or snowboarding, it is recommended to use the open slopes and to avoid the wooded area, where animals usually live. 

Also, avoid skiing on areas which are not fully covered by snow, as this can damage the vegetation.

Travel smart. As a top ski destination, Chamonix can be reached from many different cities (e.g. London, Paris, Geneva) by train or by bus. Also, inside Chamonix, there are many bus lines, including "le Mulet", a bus that allows you to reach the main areas of Chamonix and which is free for both tourists and locals.

Educate yourself about the environmental impact you have on the mountain as a skier or snowboarder and what you can do to minimise it.

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