Recreational activities and nature conservation in the Alpine protected areas: possible
coexistence

We have witnessed major changes in Alpine tourism over the past few years. It is not just a matter of the
proliferation of new recreational and sporting activities, both in summer and in winter; growing numbers of
hikers reach remote nooks of our mountains: hiking, trail running, mountain biking in its various forms, ski
mountaineering, free riding, and snowshoeing, are increasingly widely practiced activities, favored by an
outdoor market attentive to developments related to fitness, as well as the fruition of nature. Furthermore,
the ease of access to areas that were once seldom visited, along with the availability of new technical
materials (for example, lighter skis and bikes) mean that more and more people can enter environmentally
sensitive areas.

Although this phenomenon has positive implications for the mountain economy, it is a new challenge for
the managers of the Alpine protected areas. Several studies have shown that some activities can cause
disturbance and have a negative impact on the already difficult lives of wildlife, especially during winter or
in breeding periods. Then during summer, crowding can generate problems related to the occupation of
the same areas by both the users and wildlife, as well as by farmers and managers of the pastures,
meadows, and herds. Addressing the impact of recreational activities on habitats and species of the
protected areas at the local level is an important and difficult task: in order to manage it, we need an
integrated strategy that relies on the participation of all the stakeholders involved in the local tourist supply
chain (including the users) together with an open and constructive overview. Therefore, we need adequate
information for tourists, but also training courses for local operators and adequate management and
planning tools for protected areas.

CIPRA Italy is working alongside the Ossola Protected Areas Management Body on the project "RESICETS -
Environmental Resilience of Recreational Activities in the Protected Areas of Ossola, through the
European Charter for Sustainable Tourism". This is a structured initiative that involves various players in
the local tourism supply chain concerning a path of information and awareness, as well as economic and
territorial development: in fact, the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism - CETS promotes the
certification of those tour operators (alpine guides, escorts, reception activities) who work alongside the
Park Authority for the management and reduction of the impact of recreational and tourist activities. This
ambitious and innovative initiative is one of the first activated in this field in Italy. The project, supported by
the Cariplo Foundation, has a duration of three years and includes activities ranging from monitoring of
tourism to operators' training, from activation of a tailored information campaign to the preparation of
some low-impact winter hiking trails.

RESICETS is linked to the "Be Part Of The Mountain" initiative, coordinated by ALPARC, the Alpine
Protected Areas Network. This is a shared communication campaign which aims to raise the awareness of
outdoor participants with regard to the problem and to give greater visibility to local initiatives launched in
individual areas. “Be Part of the Mountain” is a project of international cooperation that aims to bring
together protected areas, NGOs for the protection of the environment, public bodies, alpine clubs and
testimonials throughout the Alps. The main objective is the triggering of virtuous behavior among winter
sports practitioners through the exchange of good practices, the development of common tools for raising
awareness, and spreading information.

 

Ultimo aggiornamento: 19/11/2018 ore 16:51:10

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