TED Case Studies

French Alp Ski Ban

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          CASE NUMBER:          27 
          CASE MNEMONIC:      FRANCE
          CASE NAME:          French Alp Ski Ban


1.        The Issue

     The development of new ski resorts in the French Alps will
be prohibited after 1997.  The French government decision was
responding in part to the internal pressure from the regional
governments hurt by the Olympic games as well as to external
pressure from the European Parliament.  Further, France has
worked with the five other Alpine nations and the European Union
on the "Convention of the Protection of the Alps."  This
agreement prohibits future development of ski stations, but does
not directly effect existing ski resorts.  Existing resorts are
likely to expand their tourist accommodations in order to take
advantage of the five years needed to establish and construct any
new resorts.

2.        Description

     "Alpine forests in Austria and Switzerland have been denuded
to make way for ski runs and cable cars."  Across the Alps, in
Switzerland, France, and Austria, tourism has become the dominant
industry.  Traditionally, the Alpine region relied on mountain
agriculture and forestry, "supplemented by employment in mining,
cottage industries, and transportation."  When these traditional
sources of income began to dwindle, tourism was brought in to
revive the economies.  Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century,
mountaineering and visits to thermal spas became increasingly
popular.  By the late 1950s, "mass tourism started...as a result
of increased leisure time, disposable income, and car

     The development of French ski resorts can be examined in
each of three development phases.  The "first generation resorts"
such as Mgve and Chamonix developed around existing villages
and were based on existing infrastructure and gradually expanded. 
The gradual growth led to less strain on local communities, yet
these ski centers were not very modern in terms of ski area or
lift capacity.  The next generation of ski developments, starting
in the late 1950s, "though designed along traditional lines, were
nevertheless built with skiers in mind."  Thus, preserving the
habitat was not among the priorities in this second phase. 
Finally, the third generation of resorts are large
"uncompromising winter sports centres...These cater for the mass
market and offer easy access, cheap accommodation, plentiful
entertainment and skiing to your door."

     One environmental problem is that of marred landscapes." 
Large ski resorts have had a tremendous impact on these
mountainous environments.  Many small mountain villages were
over-burdened by increased demand for water, adequate sewage
disposal, communications systems such as telephones, television
and mail, as well as medical services, improved road services,
shops, and restaurants, etc.  In general, over building and
overburdening of existing systems take place irrespective of
social impacts on the community.  Water quality and water levels
are altered, forests are razed for building ski slopes and roads
causing erosion, mud slides, avalanches and displacing many fauna
and flora.

     The presence of roads in mountainous regions leads to other
problems, such as traffic congestion and heavy exhaust pollution,
which are believed to trigger acid rain and tree damage.  In
Switzerland, it is believed that roughly 60 percent of the
forests are suffering from the effects of acid rain, much caused
by car pollution.  A final environmental hazard of ski resorts
results from making artificial snow.  Snow cannons, aside from
causing noise pollution, consume millions of gallons of water,
"mak[ing] sudden changes to the water levels in feeder lakes,"
disturbing the biological life in the lakes.  

     The French moratorium on building new ski resorts for five
years came about as a result of the Winter Games of 1992, in the
Savoy region of the French Alps.  Even before the games,
environmentalists warned that the Savoy was "saturated with ill-
conceived ski resorts that threatened the Alps' delicate balance
of man and mountain."  In December 1991, for example, avalanches
caused havoc to both residents and vacationers in the French
Alps.  This nightmare was caused by heavy snowfall on denuded
mountainsides, something a healthy, uncleared forest could have
prevented.  No environmental impact study of the Savoy was
undertaken agreeing to stage the Olympics.

     The Olympic games were spread throughout 13 Alpine villages
in the Savoy, which are home to a population of 340,000.  In the
past few decades, the Savoy region built enough accommodations
for 340,000 visitors, doubling the normal population rate during
the peak ski season.  During the Olympics, this region was host
to an estimated 1,500 athletes, 7,000 journalists and a million
spectators.  The games left behind substantial environmental
impacts and economic bankruptcy for 4 out of the 13 Olympic
villages.  Although village residents benefitted in terms of
improved infrastructure, the large amounts invested by local
governments has not been recaptured due to lower than expected
tourism rates.  In the end, the environment of the Alps was
irreparably marred by the Olympic games in Albertville.  The
clearing of land for the games was extensive:  

     "In Les Arcs, 7 million cubic feet of Alpine rock was
     dynamited to make way for the Olympic high-speed
     downhill course.  To build an aerial cableway between
     Brides-les-Bains in the valley and Meribel...a mile-
     long stretch of woodland was rigorously cleared of
     trees.  Entire mountain sides were blasted away for
     access roads and parking lots."  

     In other instances, event sites such as LaPlagne, home to
the bobsled course, were continually threatened with
environmental harm.  The bobsled course, built on unstable ground
in an avalanche zone, was equipped with 50 miles of pipeline
carrying 45 tons of volatile ammonia to cool the track.  Another
persistent post-Games problem is the "profitability factor".  In
order for the resorts to be profitable, the tourist season needs
to be both busy and prolonged.  Hence, snow-making machines have
multiplied on the slopes, pesticides and herbicides are used in
the summer on the newly built golf courses, and finally, there
has been mounting pressure to allow more glacier skiing in
protected parks.

     The European Parliament warned that development in the Alps
was reaching the limits of being environmentally acceptable, and
noted furthermore that the 1992 winter Olympics in Albertville,
France caused "serious environmental damage."  This message came
too late for the residents and the environment of the Savoy. 
However, as a result of the numerous problems of municipal
governments, as well as protests from environmental groups, the
French government imposed a moratorium on building new ski
stations in the Alps for five years.

3.        Related Cases

     JUMBO case
     HIMALALY case
     EVEREST case

     Keyword Clusters         

     (1): Trade Product            = TOURism
     (2): Bio-geography            = COOL
     (3): Environmental Problem    = DEFORestation

4.        Draft Author:  Jackie Arrol

B.        LEGAL Clusters

5.        Discourse and Status: AGReement and COMPlete

     In 1992 the French government agreed to place a moratorium
on building new ski stations in the Alps for five years.

6.        Forum and Scope: FRANCE and UNILATeral

     This was strictly a decision made by the French government
at the prodding of regional governments hurt by the Olympic
games.  However, France was also under pressure from the European
Parliament to take action.  The French Government was also
working with the five other Alpine nations and the European
Community on the Convention of the Protection of the Alps.  

7.        Decision Breadth: 5 (France, Switzerland, Austria,
                              Germany, and Italy)

     The French government decision may be used as a bargaining
chip in their future negotiations on the Convention of the
Protection of the Alps.

8.        Legal Standing:  LAW

C.        GEOGRAPHIC Clusters

9.        Geographic Locations

     a.   Geographic Domain : EUROPE 
     b.   Geographic Site   : Western Europe [WEUR]
     c.   Geographic Impact : FRANCE

     Although the decision to halt construction of ski stations
applies only in the French Alps, it will have an effect on the
Alpine Convention of the Protection of the Alps and thus the
other parties.  One of the concerns of Alpine residents is that
the limitation of ski station development may hinder economic
survival.  Mountain farmers, traditionally low-paid, have been
using winter tourism to supplement and sometimes earn their
living.  Winter tourism has stopped the exodus of mountain
residents to the cities.  Communities that are looking to tourism
as an economic development tool are concerned that if people
cannot ski the Austrian Alps, for example, they will go to the
Swiss Alps.  Thus, governments cannot place harsh limits on ski
development without assurance that similar limits will be
enforced across the 650 mile stretch of the Alps.  France has
been building rapidly in the Alps over the past few years, but
Switzerland and Austria have been trying to reduce new

10.       Sub-National Factors:  NO

11.       Type of Habitat:  COOL

D.        TRADE Clusters

12.       Type of Measure: Regulatory Ban [REGBAN] 

     This agreement stops future development of ski stations, but
does not directly affect existing ski stations.  The primary
business, ski-related and other winter tourism, is not directly
affected by this regulation.  However, due to the fact that new
resorts will not open for at least five years, the existing
resorts will have the opportunity to increase their occupancy

13.       Direct vs. Indirect Impacts:  INDirect

14.       Relation of Measure to Environmental Impact

     a.  Directly Related     : YES  TOURism
     b.  Indirectly Related   : YES  SERVices
     c.  Not Related          : NO
     d.  Process Related      : YES  HABITat Loss

     The process of developing mountains for ski stations has a
great impact on the Alpine environment.  This leads to
deforestation, changes in water flows, and avalanches.

15.       Trade Product Identification:  TOURism

     Tourism is a composite industry of many related fields
ranging from lodging, food, lift operations, souvenirs and
transportation.  However, the tourism industry has a multiplier
effect on the rest of the economy.  Each dollar spent on tourism
creates a rippling effect through the economy.  Hotels may
purchase furniture and equipment, and order food from local
farmers, and pay its employees who in turn will buy other goods
and services.  Thus, it has a great impact on the economic
structure of the region.

16.       Economic Data

     Although there is no specific data isolating the French
Alpine ski industry, in 1991 100 million tourists visited the
entire seven nation Alpine region, spending $60 billion on lift
tickets, food and accommodations, and so forth.  In neighboring
Switzerland, winter tourism brings in about 4 billion pounds
(approximately $6.32 billion) per year.  In some Alpine
communities 80 percent of the economy comes from travelers'
spending.  Furthermore, tourism in the Alps is expected to
increase by 50 percent at the end of the decade.  Tourism is a
large employer in Alpine regions.  In Switzerland, ten percent of
the working population is in the tourism industry, a ratio which
increases to one in three in the mountain region.  

17.       Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness:  BAN

     Given the many existing ski areas, the moratorium's impact
should be minimal.  In the long run, this will constrain the
supply and therefore tend to raise prices and give rise to more
skiing areas in other parts of the Alps, or other parts of the

18.       Industry Sector:  TOURism

19.       Exporter and Importer:  MANY and FRANCE

E.        ENVIRONMENT Clusters

20.       Environmental Problem Type:  DEFORestation

     The Alps are plagued by pollution from car fumes, much of 
which comes from vacationers.  The pollution from auto emissions
and acid rain has led to a sickening of Alpine forests.  It is
estimated that at least half of the trees are dying from
pollution.  When the trees are categorized by age, the
statistics are worse: in 1987, 97 percent of the Alpine trees
ages 100-120 years old including birches, evergreens, and firs,
were dying, and 41 percent of the young trees under 20 years old
were already showing signs of damage.  The weakening of the
trees allows parasites, insects and weathering to finish off the
trees.  The International Center for Alpine Environments warns
that if development in the Alps continued in the chaotic way, a
third of the woodland of the Alps would be destroyed by 2050.

     Sick trees lose their leaves or needles, allowing more
sunlight to reach the forest floor.  The mosses, which act as
reservoirs of rainwater, are overtaken by grass that flourishes
in sunlight.  This presence of the grass causes the soil to
become harder and less able to absorb rainfall.  Rain runs off
the ground and in colder weather snow slides over the slippery
grass.  The leaves and needles themselves can no longer absorb
water, further adding to the overload of water reaching the soil. 
Most of Europe's great rivers, the Rhine, the Rhone, and the Po,
rise in the Alps.  The Alps are considered the "water towers" of
Europe.  They can have a "great impact on the water needed for
drinking, irrigation or navigation hundreds of miles away." 
Water supplies are further polluted from "tons of detergent from
hotels and condominiums."  The water sources are subject to
great swings which can lead to "catastrophic flooding" at one
extreme, to drought at the other.  In recent years, drought
struck many of the areas and the rivers are in danger of drying
up.  On the other hand, the catastrophic Spring, 1995 floods in
the Netherlands and Germany were thought to be, in part, the
result of widespread forest clearing in Germany's Alps (see
THAILOG case). 

     A United Nations study showed that half of the animals and
birds native to the Alps have disappeared.  The plant life and
animal life in the Alps are threatened from pollution, and loss
of space to roam.  Due to the unusual vertical dimensions and
severe climates, nearly one-third of the plant life in the Alps
is native to the region.  "When resorts, roads, and ski runs
carve Alpine habitats into isolated parcels, the chances for
species to adapt and regenerate decrease."  When plant life is
destroyed above the tree line, the level above which trees cannot
grow, the vegetation does not regenerate.  The overdevelopment
endangers wild life.  Animals that need a great deal of space,
such as eagles, lynxes, and hares are disappearing.  In lower
Bavaria, 70 percent of the fish are on the endangered species
list due to pollution of mountain streams.  Of all the European
plant and animal species that are classified as endangered or
threatened, more than half are endemic to the Alps.  Examples of
some of the threatened Alpine animal life include the timber
wolf, brown bear, and bearded vulture.

     The loss of plant life has led to an increase in erosion
rates, leading to rock slides.  Although landslides are common to
the Alps, human activities have made the Alps more susceptible to
landslides, which have become more deadly in terms of wiping out
trees, buildings and people.  Until the last 10-15 years, loss of
life from landslides was minimal.  Recently, several people have
been trapped by snowfall, something a healthy, full forest could

21.       Name, Type, and Diversity of Species 

     Name:          Pines
     Type:          Plant/Coniferae
     Diversity:     1,233 higher plants per 10,000 km/sq (France)

22.       Impact and Effect:  MEDIUM and SCALE

23.       Urgency and Lifespan:  LONG and 100s of years

24.       Substitutes:  Eco-Tourism [ECOTR]

VI.       OTHER Factors

25.       Culture:  YES

     For many Europeans of mountain areas, skiing has long been
a part of their culture.

26.       Trans-Border:  YES

     The Alpine region is not demarcated by political boundaries,
but instead by biogeographic ones.

27.       Human Rights:  NO

28.       Relevant Literature

"Alpine Ski Runs Into Trouble."  Environment 31/9  
     (November 1989): 21.
"Alps Threatened with deforestation."  Science 247 (February 
     16, 1990): 811.
Barker, Mary.  "Traditional Landscape and Mass Tourism in the 
     Alps."  The Geographical Review 72 (October 1982): 395-
"Basic Data Collection: Report on Environment Indicators."  
     Environment Committee, World Tourism Organization. 
     Fifth meeting, Madrid, Spain (April 23-4): 1992.
Brunner, Erwin.  "`Green Death' in the Alps."  World Press Review
     34 (December 1987): 53.
Butler, R.W.  "Alternative Tourism: Pious Hope Or Trojan Horse?" 
     Journal of Travel Research 28 (Winter 1990): 40-45.
Cerutti, Herbert.  "Drafting a Solution."  World Press Review 
     38 (March 1991): 55.
"Conservationists: Alps Endangered by Traffic."  The Week in 
     Germany (April 27, 1990, Lexis/Nexus).
Danz, Walter and Hans-Rudolf Henz.  "Integrated development of 
     Mountain Areas.  The Alpine Region."  Office of
     Publications of the European Communities, Brussels,
     1981.  Dennison, Derek.  "Alpine Slide."  World-Watch
     (September-October 1992): 36-38.
Dickey, Christopher.  "Remodeling the Slopes."  Newsweek  
     119 (January 6, 1992): 46-47.
Domet, Rupp.  "The Alps Are Dying."  World Press Review 38 
     (March 1991): 54-5.
Elliott, Harvey.  "Avalanche of Tourism Smothers Fragile Beauty
     of the Alps."  The Times (September 23, 1992, 
"Environment: Commission Set to Sign Convention on Alps."  
     European Report (November 6, 1991, Lexis/Nexis).
"Environment: EEC Signs Convention on Alps."  European Report 
     (November 13, 1991, Lexis/Nexis).
"Environment Ministers Sign Agreement To Address Pollution in 
     Alpine Regions."  BNA International Environment Daily,
     (November 27, 1991, Lexis/Nexis).
"Environment: une Nouvelle Etape."  Lettre de Matignon 368 
     (March 16, 1992).
"French, Italian Environment Ministers Agree on Nature Zones, 
     Curbs on Tankers."  BNA International Environment Daily
     (November 12, 1992, Lexis/Nexis).
Glenny, Misha.  "Barren Ski Slopes Blames for Alpine Disasters." 
     New Scientist 115 (August 13, 1987): 22.
Greenberg, Peter S.  "How Tourism and the Environment Are 
     Colliding."  The Los Angles Times (July 9, 1989): Part
Griffith, Victoria.  "Skiing's Natural Balance."  The Financial
     Times (December 23, 1993): 6.
Johnson, Marguerite.  "Elbow-to-Elbow at the Louvre."  Time 
     138 (July 29, 1991): 31.
Kariel, Herbert.  "Tourism and Development: Perplexity or 
     Panacea?"  Journal of Travel Research 28 (Summer 1989):
Kiefer, Francine S.  "Pollution Threatens Alpine Tourist Haven." 
     Christian Science Monitor (July 31, 1991): 11.
Lienert, Leo.  "In Harmony with Nature; The Making of the Alpine
     Landscape."  Unesco Courier 40 (February 1987,
     Lexus/Nexis): 4-8.
MacKenzie, Debora.  "Alpine Countries seek Control of Skiers, 
     Builders and Roads."  New Scientist 124 (October 14,
     1989): 22.
May, John.  "World-Class Destruction."  The New York Times 
     (February 17, 1992): A17.
McCarthy, Michael.  "Making Ruins out of Mountains."  The Times
     (March 17, 1992).
Mehr, Christian.  "Are the Swiss Forests in Peril?"  National 
     Geographic 175 (May, 1989): 636-51.
Murphy, Jamie.  "Apocalypse in the Alps."  Time 124 
     (September 3, 1984): 66.
"Olympic Folly in the Alps."  The Economist 322 (January 11, 
     1992): 47.
"Protection of Alps:  Commission Still Waiting for Draft 
     Mandate."  Europe Environment (April 23, 1991,
"Representatives of Mountain Regions Meet."  Europe Environment. 
     (October 20, 1992, Lexis/Nexis).
"Quarrying versus Tourism: a Budget for the Landscape."  New 
     Scientist 122 (May 13, 1989): 58.
Rodger, Ian.  "Switzerland Tried to Halt the Slide."  The   
     Financial Times (December 23, 1992): 6.
Sager, Doug.  "Off the Piste, Europe's Ski Slopes Turn Green." 
      The Financial Times (Weekend, December 5-6, 1992):
Schilling, Margaret.  "Will the Olympics kill the Alps?"  World
     Press Review 39 (February 1992): 47.
Simons, Marlise.  "Alps Caught in Vise Between Tourism and 
     Trucks."  The New York Times (April 6, 1992): A12.
Simons, Paul.  "Apres ski de Deluge."  New Scientist 117 
     (January 14, 1988): 49.
Smith, Christine and Paul Jenner.  "Tourism and the Environment." 
      Economist Intelligence Unit, Travel & Tourism Analyst
     No. 5 (1989, London): 68-86.
The Swiss Report prepared for the United Nations Conference on 
     Environment and Development.  Bern: The Federal Office
     of Environment, Forests and Landscape, April 1992.
Toy, Stewart.  "Didn't The Alps Used To Have Snow?"  Business 
     Week (February 19, 1990): 48.
Wells, Ken.  "The Alps' Lofty Vistas Now Often Include Malls and
     Parking Lots."  The Wall Street Journal CCXVIII/116
     (December 12, 1991): A1 and A10.
"United Nations: European Mountains and Forests Threatened."  
     Europe Environment (November 26, 1991, Lexis/Nexis).


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