Several organisations including the Alliance for the Soul of the Alps, the WWF, the Austrian Alpine Association (Österreichischer Alpenverein) and Naturefriends Austria (Naturfreunde Österreich) are opposing a mega project to connect two ski resorts called Pitztal Glacier and Ötztal Glacier/Sölden in Tyrol, Austria.
The ski resorts Pitztal Glacier and Ötztal Glacier/Sölden are planning a construction project that would connect the two areas, leading to “Europe‘s largest contiguous glacier ski resort”, in what can be called a glacier marriage that threatens large pristine areas.
“The construction would dramatically change the natural landscape, some of which would have to happen directly on glacier terrain. The planned expansion would stretch from Mittelberg in Pitztal over Griestal up to the Linker Fernerkogel, a pristine mountain with three glaciers,” says a report by the WWF.
According to the WWF, the project will require more than 116 football fields of land. It will include three new ski lifts; a three-storey ropeway station; restaurants and bars (for up to 1,600 guests); a 600 m tunnel; more than four kilometers of roads and paths and levelling and removal of ice on 72 ha of glacier terrain.
“If you carry out construction projects of this size up there, you change a wild, pristine high mountain landscape into an industrial landscape,” says an employee of Austrian Alpine Association Benjamin Stern.
According to WWF, the area is home to rare glacier landscapes and alpine turfs and forests, many of which are endangered habitats, protected by EU regulations. An abundance of alpine species such as the ibex, the snow- and the black grouse, the bearded vulture, the golden eagle, the snow hare and the groundhog need those habitats as their refuge. The springs, streams and rivers in the area remain completely natural and need to be protected.
Only seven per cent of Austria‘s national territory is still in a natural state and free from technical infrastructure. The mega project Ptztal-Ötztal threatens to further reduce the area that remains in its natural state.
‘Vanishing Lines’, a documentary produced by outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, highlights the environmental risks that the project poses: