A survey done by Savoie Mont Blanc has shown that 91% of people visiting the area in the winter care about the environment and the protection of the mountains. Mountains are fragile and are facing many types of threat. Resorts and local companies are working together to put in place an increasing number of eco-friendly initiatives.
In February 1989, an aerial cable car linking Bourg-Saint-Maurice to the resort of Arc 1600 opened. It was the first of its kind. 30 years later, 7 million Euros have been invested in its complete renovation. For winter 2019–20, skiers will be able to use a more modern cable car with panoramic windows over the valley. 100% electric, the new cable car is perfectly integrated into its environment. The station at Bourg-Saint-Maurice has also been redone to offer more comfort to passengers.
From now on, Les Sybelles will only use green energy for its snow-making and for the lifts. The certified 100% renewable electricity comes from local hydroelectricity centres.
Certified ISO 14001 (ISO 14000 is a family of standards relating to environmental management), the ski area of Saint-Gervais has included a new development in its ecological plans. Chattrix, the entrance to the Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area from the Saint-Nicolas de Véroce area, will be protected and will include a hibernaculum for reptiles.
After assessing the state of the slopes in the summer, La Rosière has put a plan in place to protect them. The slopes have been cleaned of all types of garbage, vegetation has been planted, and 4x4 vehicles now have limited access. The results can already be seen – nature has taken over and the slopes look beautiful!
There are more and more synthetic ice rinks in Savoie Mont Blanc. They use zero energy (no electricity or water), they have no CO2 emissions, and they are 100% recyclable. A new one is opening in Orelle this winter.
Val Thorens is the first resort in the world to introduce a revolutionary 4WD self-driving electric shuttle bus, manufactured by Nayva – a French autonomous vehicle company. Seating 15 passengers, the driverless shuttle – called Berto – will operate around the village, which is car-free during the week. This exciting new environmentally friendly service will start in December 2019. It’s free and operates on a hop-on, hop-off basis. The vehicle is packed with advanced, cutting-edge multi-sensor technology, including cameras and GPS, and can operate at up to 25 kph for around nine hours on a single charge.
Augmenting its focus on innovative mobility solutions, Val Thorens is also introducing Z-Green this season – an electric one-seater tracked vehicle designed to help disabled people get from their accommodation to the slopes. Z-Green can be booked for free via the Tourist Office. In addition, Z Green Park is opening – a dedicated snow circuit for those who want to put these little machines through their paces. The track is located near the P4 parking area.
Valmorel has improved its shuttle network around the resort in order to be greener. They have new vehicles (Euro 6) offering a longer service (from 7am to midnight) to encourage people to use their cars less. The CO2 emissions are now only 0.287g per passenger.
For more than two decades, Green Globe has been providing sustainability certification for the tourism industry. Two ski areas of Savoie Mont Blanc have been awarded a Green Globe: Tignes-Val d’Isère and the Grand Massif. 300 criteria have been looked at to get the certification and the ski areas had to commit to future improvements such as planting more trees and putting vegetation on roofs.
Station Verte is a French label created in 1964 that is awarded to resorts and territories offering authentic experiences and respecting the environment and the local communities. Seven resorts in Savoie Mont Blanc have the Station Verte label: Albiez-Montrond, Châtel, Courchevel, Peisey, Samoëns, Thollon-les-Mémises and Valloire.
Created in 2001, Mountain Riders is a French charity promoting sustainable tourism. Mountain Riders educates young people about the environment, working with local authorities and communities. They have different projects, but one of the most important ones is Mountain Days. Every year during Mountains Days, volunteers clean the mountains. Each year, 150 tons of waste are collected, and 40% of the waste collected can be recycled.
Mountain Riders has also developed a label, the Flocon Vert, which is given to resorts working on sustainable tourism projects. Six resorts have a Flocon Vert, including two in Savoie Mont Blanc: Chamonix-Mont-Blanc valley and Châtel.
Since 2008, the Flaine ski area checks the evolution of the biodiversity of an area covering 1,400 hectares. They take measures to protect this biodiversity; for example, the flower Stemmacantha Raponthica has a specific protection programme and Flaine now has the larger amount of this rare flower.
Les Gets is protecting the tétras lyre – a black grouse and an emblematic bird of the Alps – by creating quiet zones in the winter and reproduction areas in the summer.
In Les 3 Vallées, around 20 tétras lyre and lagopèdes, another local bird, have been equipped with GPS to study how they move. The Vanoise National Park is involved in the project and the goal is to create sheltered zones for them.
Several resorts organise tours and activities to discover local flora and fauna. In Les Arcs, families can learn about a local hare, the Lièvre Blanchot, by following its footsteps. In Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval, visitors can use telescopes to observe gyapètes barbus (birds).