Ecotourism in The Alps
Ecotourism was born in the Alps and is still thriving there. This is a place where the outdoors imbues the lives of everyone and there is insight and inspiration to be gained just watching Alpine residents engage their environment naturally. All kinds of activities are accessible. Deep valleys are full of flat paths to walk and bike. Lifts reach some of the highest summits and even ambitious hikes and bike rides can offer downhill grades -- with a wealth of trail-side restaurants and overnight accommodations.
At the 10th Alpine Conference in Evian/F in March 2009 a climate action plan was adopted, which set itself the goal of making the Alpine region a model for prevention and adjustment to climate change.
At the suggestion of Germany, the action plan provides for an assessment of the conditions required to enable the Alpine region to become "carbon-neutral" by 2050.
CIPRA, the Alpine network of protected areas, ISCAR and the WWF have been involved in the "Ecological Continuum" project for the establishment of an ecological network covering the entire Alpine region since 2007.
In times of climate change it is particularly important to ensure that the landscape does not present obstacles to the passage of migratory species.
With new financial support from the Swiss MAVA Foundation for Nature the Consortium partners will be able to build on the successful groundwork.
The "Ecological Continuum" project will focuses on ways of increasing awareness in the UN Biodiversity Year 2010 and on further developing the existing instruments and disseminating current results. Further Information: http://www.alpine-ecological-network.org/ (en)
Glaciers in the European Alps are melting very fast, so much so that the mountains could be almost ice free by the beginning of the next century. A study, to be published in the Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that the Alps will become almost free of ice by 2100, given a nine-degree-Fahrenheit (five-degree-Celsius) rise in summer air temperature. A temperature increase of 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) would see glacier cover shrink by 80 percent by the end of the century.
Since skiing is one of the main attractions in the Alps, no snow is bad news. Some ski resort operators have begun covering their slopes in a variety of anti-solar protective materials. This is only a small step to slow down the shrinking of the glaciers. Rapidly melting glaciers could make Alpine towns and resorts defenseless against catastrophic floods and rock falls.