Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

B. Klug-Pümpel and Ch. Krampitz:

Conservation in Alpine Ecosystems:

The plant cover of ski runs reflects natural as well as anthropogenic environmental factors


The plant cover of graded and non-graded ski runs through semi-natural subalpine and alpine plant communities was carefully studied in the course of a Man and Biosphere project near Obertauern Salzburg, Austria. With the help of phytosociological releves (see BRAUN-BLANQUET, 1964), the plant species that occurred on ski tracks more frequently than in the surroundings and those that eventually disappeared from very highly frequented ski runs were determined.

To regenerate the vegetation on graded ski slopes, the lift operators had resown them with commercial ready-mixed seeds. At altitudes of more than 2025 m only single species out of the mix had survived. The conditions were too harsh for the lowland taxa. However, some autochthon species occurred very frequently on ski runs at all altitudes, even when they were more or less absent in the surrounding semi-natural vegetation. The more recently graded areas still housed a relatively high number of seeded plants, whereas many of the species sown were absent on older runs or had been partly replaced by autochthon taxa. The seed species were mainly restricted to flat or slightly sloping areas with little or no micro relief and better soil. Skiing activities on non-graded runs across the locally widespread sedge and rush moors had almost completely eliminated a few of the indigenous species in the runs. The importance of breeding those autochthon seeds that have already been proven to cope with the extreme conditions on ski runs is emphasized as a basis for revegetating the ski-damaged landscapes of the Alps.

Key words: Autochthon seeds, altitudinal gradient, revegetation, ski runs, subalpine and alpine vegetation.