Skier freeriding
 Protective forest with sign plus detour
Snowy slope with protective forest

“Often you don’t notice you’ve gone too far!”

Forest ski slopes are very popular, especially after deep snowfalls. Hardly anyone gives a thought to the fact that, in sparse forests and in cleared areas, young trees can be hidden beneath the snow. 

Have you ever thought what damage skis and snowboards can cause?

Is skiing in the forest actually allowed?

 The Austrian Forestry Act states that, in principle, skiing in the forest is allowed. There are, however, important exceptions:

  • In reforestation areas with trees smaller than 3 m
  • In forests close to ski slopes and lifts.

Do skiers and snowboarders cause damage in young forests?

Whenever the small trees are hidden under the snow cover or are so small that they cannot be recognised as an obstacle, skiers and snowboarders can cause serious damage to the young trees.

Most often the thin bark is completely shredded by the sharp edges and the open wounds then allow wood-destroying fungi (red rot) to penetrate. This can mean that the tree may appear to be growing quite normally but after a few decades it collapses because of the destruction of the wood body.

Repeated damage caused by ski edges can lead to the death of young plants.

What does that mean for effective protection of the forest?

Especially in forests, which protect the settlements and road infrastructure from natural hazards (site-protecting forests), the presence of young trees is important for the sustained protection. When old trees die, saplings should already be ready to grow so that protection is provided as quickly as possible. Any damage or delayed growth can impair effective protection.

Tyrolean Ski and Snowboard Tour Plan

We have worked intensively with environmentalists, hunters and conservation experts to draw up the Tyrolean Ski and Snowboard Tour Plan to investigate the impact of ski and snowboard tours on flora and fauna in the mountains.

If you need any further information about the protected sites and species and want to know how we came to choose them, you'll find all the basics in the Tyrolean Ski and Snowboard Tour Plan below, which is available for downloading.