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Climate ski resorts environmental impact and sustainability efforts | Upload Man-Made

Ski Resorts Environmental Impact And Sustainability Efforts

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by: Marike Boonstra
ski resorts environmental impact and sustainability efforts | Upload

Skiing and snowboarding are great ways to be outdoors during winter. Nevertheless, the impact of ski resorts on the environment is huge: they rely on a complex and energy-demanding infrastructure, with scores of employees and heavy use of water. While many ski-resort owners are switching to environmentally friendly practices such as renewable energy, recycling and composting, some feel that these adjustments fail to mitigate the overall negative effect of ski areas on the environment. What is the solution?

Water Use

One of the problems is the excessive amount of water use in ski resorts. As a result of global climate change, most ski areas experience winters of increasingly shorter duration. If the snow base falls below a certain level, resort managers must use artificial snow-making systems. Artificial snow is made by mixing large volumes of water and high-pressure air, so the process demands an abundance of water and energy. When the water is taken from the local rivers and streams, it has a negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem.



                                                Behind the Scenes - How Snowmaking at Ski Resorts Works
                                                Ski Resorts Environmental Impact And Sustainability Efforts

 

Wildlife Disturbance

Alpine habitats above the tree line are already threatened by global climate change, and disturbance from skiers is one more stressor. These disturbances can come from scaring wildlife or harming their habitat by damaging vegetation and compacting soils. An example: the population of black grouse, a creature that lives in the Swiss Alps, is usually found at half its normal density around ski areas.

2 Black Grouse fighting
Photo by: Mike Lane. Two Black Grouse fighting

Recommended: Climate Change Causes Nature To Change: The World Affected

Land Use Change

To create ski trails, a large amount of clear-cutting in forested areas is required. The resulting fragmented landscape negatively impacts habitat quality for many bird and mammal species. Also: wind, light, and disturbance levels increase near the open slopes, reducing habitat quality. To create ski trailers, a large amount of clear-cutting in forested areas is required. The resulting fragmented landscape negatively impacts habitat quality for many bird and mammal species.


To create new trailers, ski resorts have to remove woody vegetation. The fastest way to achieve that is with a bulldozer, graded to remove tree stumps and any sort of slope irregularity. This process reduces topsoil depth and causes soil erosion. Also: wind, light, and disturbance levels increase near the open slopes, reducing habitat quality.

Recommended: Deforestation: No! Celebrate National Tree Day With WhatsOrb

Fossil Fuel Energy

Resort skiing is an energy-intensive operation, relying on fossil fuels, producing greenhouse gases and contributing to global warming. For example: ski lifts usually run on electricity, and operating a single ski lift for a month requires about the same energy needed to power 3.8 households for a year. Another one: to maintain the surface of the snow on the ski runs, a resort deploys nightly a fleet of trail groomers each operating on about 5 gallons of diesel per hour and producing carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate emissions.

Recommended: Carbon-Negative Fuel Set: Burning The World To A Better Place

A complete estimate of the greenhouse gases emitted in association with resort skiing would need to include those produced by skiers driving or flying to the mountains. Ironically, climate change is affecting most ski regions. As global atmospheric temperatures go up, snowpacks are thinning, and the ski seasons are getting shorter.

Solutions

The environmental costs associated with resort skiing come in multiple dimensions, and so do the solutions. Many ski resorts have made substantial efforts to minimize their environmental impacts. Solar panels, wind turbines, and small hydro turbines have been deployed to supply renewable energy. Improved waste management and composting programs have been implemented, just like green building technologies have been employed. Forest management efforts have been planned to improve wildlife habitat. But it this enough?

Initiatives You Can Take

Research, research, research: it is now possible for skiers to gather information about a resort’s sustainability efforts and make informed consumer decisions. An increasing number of outdoor enthusiasts seek snowy slopes by practicing lower-impact forms of skiing. These backcountry skiers and snowboarders use specialized equipment that allows them to make their way up the mountain on their own power, and then to ski down natural terrain that has not been logged or groomed. These skiers have to be self-sufficient and able to mitigate a multitude of mountain-related safety risks. The learning curve is steep, but backcountry skiing has a lighter environmental impact than resort skiing.

Before you go!

Recommended: Earth Matters. Nature And Us: What Was, What’s Left: Hope?

Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
We try to respond the same day.

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Click on 'Register' or push the button 'Write An Article' on the 'HomePage'

Ski Resorts Environmental Impact And Sustainability Efforts

Skiing and snowboarding are great ways to be outdoors during winter. Nevertheless, the impact of ski resorts on the environment is huge: they rely on a complex and energy-demanding infrastructure, with scores of employees and heavy use of water. While many ski-resort owners are switching to environmentally friendly practices such as renewable energy, recycling and composting, some feel that these adjustments fail to mitigate the overall negative effect of ski areas on the environment. What is the solution? Water Use One of the problems is the excessive amount of water use in ski resorts. As a result of global climate change, most ski areas experience winters of increasingly shorter duration. If the snow base falls below a certain level, resort managers must use artificial snow-making systems. Artificial snow is made by mixing large volumes of water and high-pressure air, so the process demands an abundance of water and energy. When the water is taken from the local rivers and streams, it has a negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem. {youtube}                                                 Behind the Scenes - How Snowmaking at Ski Resorts Works                                                 Ski Resorts Environmental Impact And Sustainability Efforts   Wildlife  Disturbance Alpine habitats above the tree line are already threatened by global climate change, and disturbance from skiers is one more stressor. These disturbances can come from scaring wildlife or harming their habitat by damaging vegetation and compacting soils. An example: the population of black grouse, a creature that lives in the Swiss Alps, is usually found at half its normal density around ski areas. Photo by: Mike Lane. Two Black Grouse fighting Recommended:  Climate Change Causes Nature To Change: The World Affected Land Use Change To create ski trails, a large amount of clear-cutting in forested areas is required. The resulting fragmented landscape negatively impacts habitat quality for many bird and mammal species. Also: wind, light, and disturbance levels increase near the open slopes, reducing habitat quality. To create ski trailers, a large amount of clear-cutting in forested areas is required. The resulting fragmented landscape negatively impacts habitat quality for many bird and mammal species. To create new trailers, ski resorts have to remove woody vegetation. The fastest way to achieve that is with a bulldozer, graded to remove tree stumps and any sort of slope irregularity. This process reduces topsoil depth and causes soil erosion. Also: wind, light, and disturbance levels increase near the open slopes, reducing habitat quality. Recommended:  Deforestation: No! Celebrate National Tree Day With WhatsOrb Fossil Fuel Energy Resort skiing is an energy-intensive operation, relying on fossil fuels, producing greenhouse gases and contributing to global warming. For example: ski lifts usually run on electricity, and operating a single ski lift for a month requires about the same energy needed to power 3.8 households for a year. Another one: to maintain the surface of the snow on the ski runs, a resort deploys nightly a fleet of trail groomers each operating on about 5 gallons of diesel per hour and producing carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate emissions. Recommended:  Carbon-Negative Fuel Set: Burning The World To A Better Place A complete estimate of the greenhouse gases emitted in association with resort skiing would need to include those produced by skiers driving or flying to the mountains. Ironically, climate change is affecting most ski regions. As global atmospheric temperatures go up, snowpacks are thinning, and the ski seasons are getting shorter. Solutions The environmental costs associated with resort skiing come in multiple dimensions, and so do the solutions. Many ski resorts have made substantial efforts to minimize their environmental impacts. Solar panels, wind turbines, and small hydro turbines have been deployed to supply renewable energy. Improved waste management and composting programs have been implemented, just like green building technologies have been employed. Forest management efforts have been planned to improve wildlife habitat. But it this enough? Initiatives You Can Take Research, research, research: it is now possible for skiers to gather information about a resort’s sustainability efforts and make informed consumer decisions. An increasing number of outdoor enthusiasts seek snowy slopes by practicing lower-impact forms of skiing. These backcountry skiers and snowboarders use specialized equipment that allows them to make their way up the mountain on their own power, and then to ski down natural terrain that has not been logged or groomed. These skiers have to be self-sufficient and able to mitigate a multitude of mountain-related safety risks. The learning curve is steep, but backcountry skiing has a lighter environmental impact than resort skiing. Before you go! Recommended:  Earth Matters. Nature And Us: What Was, What’s Left: Hope? Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about sustainability? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage'
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