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Forestry is the second most important type of land use in the Alps. However, most forests in valleys, including especially valuable forests near riverbanks, have already been lost to settlements, infrastructure, and river regulation.
The remaining forest areas are mainly restricted to mountain slopes where they still cover large areas.
Though these forests are exploited throughout the Alps, special care is taken to maintain them as protection against avalanches and rock slides.
These forests are in a relatively natural state, but are nonetheless easily accessible through a dense network of forest roads.
In the past, some areas were reforested as monocultures, reducing biodiversity. These areas are no longer managed and often become very dense. The even-age structure of these monocultures poses future threats to the landscape, as entire stands are at risk of collapsing.
The few pristine forests left in the Alps (about 665 ha) can mostly be found in remote areas where building road networks through the forest is not economically feasible.
In some parts of the Alps, winter-feeding of game substantially increases the population size of these animals. The grazing and browsing of these herbivores on young foliage can have severe impacts on the regeneration of subalpine forests and, hence, on the diversity of plant species.