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Skiers: a species on the verge of extinction?

Mar 23, 2006
A new study by WWF Italy shows that snowfall in the Italian Alps has decreased by 20% over the past thirty years and looks at the consequences. The tourism industry, which has been a cash cow for many alpine regions, has come to rely exclusively on artificial snow installations in many cases.
cross-country ski run
Image caption:
A cross-country ski run made from artificial snow: Is this the future of winter landscapes in the Alps? © http://www.ch-forschung.ch
More than half the slopes are now covered with artificial snow, at an average cost of €136,000 per hectare per year.
The study also reveals that the traditional skier or snowboarder is becoming rarer; indeed 48% of winter guests practise neither of these sports. WWF Italy believes that the most drastic consequence of providing an artificial snow cover is the increase in water consumption. In the Province of Bolzano, where artificial snow is used on two thirds of slopes, water consumption has doubled within five years through the use of snow guns. Protected areas such as the Stilfser Joch National Park, already affected by hydraulic power plants and recessive glaciers, have been hard hit.
Information and to download the study: www.wwf.it/ambiente/dossier/Alpi_e_turismo (it) www.wwf.it/news/alpiArticolo (it)