Cleaning Up the Alps

Obsolete facilities such as barbed wire, live shells, ammunition, abandoned ski stations and disused cable, are a real plague for wilderness, environment and outdoor users in mountains. Until recently, there was no obligation for these old structures to be removed even though they represent a great danger to wildlife and people.

Since 2002, Mountain Wilderness has been working on this problem, including raising awareness of the adverse impacts of this debris on fauna and flora, soils and rivers, and on the global ecosystem. With this funding, three separate dismantling and removal operations will be undertaken, including in Mercantour National Park and the Cerces Massif, where barbed wire and other scrap left over from WW2 are still endangering animals and hikers.

The Update

This project is now complete and has been a great success. A total of seven sites were tackled by the project, two more than planned! Including:
– Dismantling a summer bob sled track unused for 13 years in the Regional Natural Park of “les Ballons des Vosges”. Approximately 20 volunteers removed 11 tonnes of scrap, including 100 fiberglass pipes and the metal chassis of the track.
– Two tonnes of waste removed from Parc Naturel Régional de la Chartreuse. 20 volunteers helped clear a 1500m section of the River Vence.
– Barbed wire removal at Mercantour National Park at two sites: involving 73 volunteers, equipped with bolt cutters and sledgehammers, 7.8 tonnes of barbed wire waste was removed over 4 days.
– Over 20 tonnes of military infrastructures removed from Cerces Massif. 70 volunteers removed barbed wire ‘haystacks’ and metal sheets.
– A 400m long drag lift, unused since 1976, was removed from Alex, Haute-Savoie; along with a further two tonnes of waste pylon, cable and various scrap for recycling.
– Dismantling an old final station of the Glaciers cable car at the Col du Midi, as well as removal of barbed wire ‘haystacks’ and metal sheets.
An immense achievement for the summer of 2017! In just 12 days of work, over 200 volunteers cleared over 59 tonnes of obsolete installations from the Alps!

Image: Cleaning up the Alps. Image credit: Emilien Maulave