A huge variety of ecosystems Marshes, ponds, peat bogs, easily flooded meadows, reed beds, mangrove swamps… source images: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_humide
With 3 things in common A habitat is a wetland when : Variable présence of Water Adapted Végétation in time or space Hydromorphic Soils
Wetland functions The loss and deterioration of wetlands has consequences because wetlands perform various functions. Hydrological functions (towards river regimes) Flood control, dissipation of erosive forces… Biogeochemical Functions (water quality improvement) Sediment trapping, nutrient removal, heavy metals retainment… Ecological Functions Wild life support and biodiversity conservation Cultural and sociological functions Tourism, fishing, education, historic interest…However, to maintain all these functions, the density of wetlands must be sufficient at thecatchment level.
Interactions with ski activity Characteristics of mountain wetlands: • Headwater catchments • Water supply depends partly on snow melt and run-off from adjacent glacier • Reduced and splitted biogeographical area • Very specialized species • Sensitive to global changes How wetlands affect ski resorts : • Strategic localization (flat areas) • Early snow melting • Ice on ski trails (security problem)
Interactions with ski activity How ski resorts affect wetlands : • Destruction to build accommodations, ski lifts, reservoirs, etc. • Hydrological interferences due to dams, draining, flow diversion, etc. • Soil erosion due to increased flows • Soil compression due to heavy piece of machinery • Pollution by fertilizers, heavy metals and sediment particles
Val Thorens The ski resort: • Northern french Alps (Savoie) • 3rd generation ski resort (created in 1970) • at the border of the National Parc of La Vanoise (conflicts) • on the Municipality of St Martin de Belleville • Certification (ISO 14001) The municipality of St Martin de Belleville: • Located in the “peripheral area” of the National Parc of La Vanoise • 2 big ski resorts : Val Thorens and Les Menuires and a small one : St Martin de Belleville • An interest for wetlands since 2000: - creation of an artificial lake, for summer tourism, affecting a peatbog - compensatory measures to protect an interesting wetland located upstream - beginning of a cooperation with the departmental conservatory (CPNS)
Origin of the project and initial stakeholders : Environmental impact assessment Compensatory mitigation Destruction of a protected species (Silene suecica) Construction of anew reservoir (2008) Statutory protection (APPB) 2 years study (2009-2010)(for snow production) for a well preserved area to improve the management of located on the ski area Wetlands located on the ski area A 5 years action plan and tools Integration of wetlands Pilot action to protect, rehabilitate and value in the municipal zoning the wetlands of Val Thorens (2011-2015) (Adapted from Content & Georges 2009)
The situation in 2008 Wetlands in 1970 Wetlands in 2008 Loss of surface area since 1970 (%) Loss of wetland area between 1970 and 2008 Réalisation: H. Cogez et C. David (2010) Sources: IGN, PNV, CPNS, Content & Georges 2009
Building the action plan for Val Thorens An approach based on multi-stakeholder participatory process • Data collection, cartography and field work in order to identify: - the history of the wetland complex2009 - the functionning of these high altitude mountain wetlands - the impacts related to winter and summet tourism development Research Institute Departemental conservatory National Parc Ski-lift operator Stakeholders participating in the process (adapted from Commun 2011)
Building the action plan for Val Thorens • Development of tools (maps, summary memo for each wetland, etc…) designed to : - Help decision making for the ski lift operator - Help discussion, dialogue and consciousness raising of all stakeholders • Making choices, taking into account different points of view :2010 - What practices can be changed and how? - Priorities and technical choices for rehabilitation - Educational trails design – winter communication on wetlands • Consciousness raising (meetings, presentations, field trips, information notes…) Mountain guides office Ski-lift operator Funders Sports club (Water agency, Research Institute General Council) Water Company Departemental conservatory (Lyonnaise des Eaux) Tourist office National Parc Farmer Pistes management Actors and stakeholders participating in the process (adapted from Commun 2011)
Action plan for Val Thorens (2011 - 2015) Protect what’s left (no more deterioration) : • Inventories and maps (locating wetlands and avoiding all works on wetland areas) • Changing practices (respecting the hydrographic network, no draining and no pipes, light snow grooming on wetlands in winter, no traffic on wetlands in summer, …) • Innovations (GPS and radars measuring snow thikness under snow groomers)Réalisation: H. Cogez et C. David (2010)Sources: IGN, PNV, CPNS, Content & Georges 2009
Action plan for Val Thorens (2011 - 2015) Rehabilitate the impacted wetlands : • Small changes with huge effects (minimal intervention) • Experiments to adapt rehabilitation techniques to high altitude constraints (climate, slopes, river regimes) • Innovations (summer/winter drainage system) Making the ski lift operator responsible for the rehabilitation of wetlands (rehabilitation works, monitoring, funding)
Action plan for Val Thorens (2011 - 2015) Value the wetlands and educate • Educational trails (summer) Municipality level (including 2 other ski resorts) • Boards explaining wetlands for winter tourists • Animations with children (summer)
IV – Bottlenecks and Spreading 2010 2011 Work in progress…
Bottlenecks • Conflicts between actors - Agriculture vs. Ski resorts - Employeur vs. Employee - Different individual environmental and professional ethics • Changing the habits: it takes time … • Wetland’s dissidence - Wetlands do not always respond as expected to rehabilitation works Innovation, experimentation, involve people and keep explaining …
Spreading • Within the municipality : Mountain guides office Funders (Water agency, Sports club General Council) Municipality Tourist office (St Martin de Belleville) Pistes management (2000-2011) Conservatory (CPNS) Val Thorens ski resort National Parc Les Ménuires ski resort (2010) (La Vanoise) (2011) Cemagref Water Company Farmers Organizations (Lyonnaise des Eaux) (protection of the environment, fishing…) Sharing information, making coherent actions to raise the public’s awareness on wetlands on the municipality’s territory …
Spreading • from ski resorts to ski resorts : - Spreading the information (meetings and articles, using different networks such as the conservatories, DSF, …) - Improving the technical solutions On going experiments in Les Menuire and Val Thorens, creation of a high altitude wetland observatory in collaboration with the Haute-Savoie conservatory…3 years after the beginning of Val Thorens project, about ten ski resorts are now makingtheir own action plans for a better conservation of wetlands within their ski areas.
Conclusions The Val Thorens project was based on : • A national regulation protecting endangered species • A local initiative involving socio-économical stakeholders • An approcah based on a multi-stakeholder participatory process at every stage, from information gathering to technical choices and monitoring. • A strong political support from the municipality • A financing from together: the region, the water agency and the ski resorts themeselvesIt is to early to conclude on a long-term success, but the first results are encouragingand the approach is already spreading.