La Rosière’s ski area is a Protected Designation of Origin (AOP) for Beaufort cheese and its high-altitude pastures are grazed by Tarine and Abondance cows and sheep throughout the summer.
While it is reserved for snow sports in the winter, every summer the land is used for grazing and agriculture.
This double use of the land keeps the resort’s economic momentum going all year round.
A coexistence that benefits the ski area
Allowing animals to graze the ski area’s land has a double objective:
It provides farmers with a vast grazing area for their animals. Because the land is covered by the AOP Beaufort protected designation of origin certification, it gives a real added value to the milk produced.
It maintains the ski area and reduces any natural hazards. Cropped grass gives the snowpack more grip, whereas long grass increases the risk of avalanche.
Animals thus help "stabilise" the snowpack.
They also maintain the environment. In areas of land that have been neglected, the forest starts to take over. High mountain pastures boast a wealth of biodiversity, but if the vegetation is allowed to close in, it has an impact on the surrounding fauna. The black grouse, for example, is a species that needs a so-called “mosaic” habitat to complete its life cycle (see photo 2 below, illustrating the checkerboard habitat of the black grouse).
What is pastoralism?
Les animaux jouent également un rôle de "stabilisateur" du manteau neigeux.
De plus, ils entretiennent les milieux. Dans de nombreux espaces laissés à l'abandon, la forêt remonte. Or, les prairies d'alpage sont des milieux riches en biodiversité. Les milieux se referment et impactent la faune environnante. Le tétras-lyre, par exemple, est une espèce ayant besoin de milieux dits « en mosaïque » pour pouvoir réaliser son cycle de vie (cf. photo 2 ci-dessous illustrant le milieu en damier des Tétras-Lyre).
An essential dialogue between the farmers and the DSR
The local farmers and the DSR regularly hold discussions to ensure that they all know their rights in terms of using and driving on the 4x4 tracks.
Summer is an opportunity for the ski area to carry out landscaping work. The farmers are consulted to ensure that this work does not disturb the grazing animals, and the work sites are marked out to make sure they do not spill over onto any grazing pastures.
When pipes are installed for the snow cannons, special traps are included to make it easier for the farmers to provide water for their animals.
Once the landscaping work is complete and the slopes have been shaped, the land is replanted.
A revegetation policy to preserve our land
In the mountains, there is a lot of erosion due to the steepness of the slopes and the flow of rainwater during storms, which washes away the soil’s plant layer. Because grass and plants are already sparse on the slopes, and because of the landscaping work the ski slopes require, a revegetation policy has been rolled out on the ski area over the last few years.
The example below shows how the Chamois slope has been replanted
(Photo 1: BEFORE / Photo 2: AFTER)
Depending on the land, several revegetation techniques are employed:
On flat land, the soil is ploughed to help the vegetation to bed in.
On steep slopes and land with just a thin layer of soil, extra topsoil is added.
Sometimes seedlings must be planted, so suitable seeds must be chosen.
Other areas only need a soil enricher (manure spreading). An agreement has been set up between the local manure stocking association and the DSR, in which the DSR makes use of all the manure deposited in the manure store (750m3).
In order to make the revegetation as efficient as possible, it is important to choose the right types of seeds to plant.
The type of seeds used depends on the altitude of the area to be planted, the type of plants already growing on the site (local varieties) and how the site is used in the summer. Below an altitude of 2,000m, it is important to plant seed varieties that will be useful for haymaking and grazing, such as red fescue, Alpine wiregrass and orchard grass.
At higher altitude, it is more difficult for the vegetation to bed in. It is therefore better to use so-called “turf” seeds such as ray grass, orchard grass, fescue.
Below are 3 photos showing: 1. A field of orchard grass; 2. A grazing pasture; 3. Alpine wiregrass.
As you can see, the ski area is a place where various different professions are able to coexist.
Local agriculture both maintains the land to prevent natural hazards and increase biodiversity while providing our region with an important cheese-making resource.
The ski area’s activity helps modernise local agriculture while benefitting from the maintenance work carried out by the farmers.