Environmental Management

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 580–592 | Cite as

Land Degradation at the Stara Planina Ski Resort

  • Ratko RistićEmail author
  • Milica Kašanin-Grubin
  • Boris Radić
  • Zoran Nikić
  • Nevena Vasiljević


The environmental impacts of ski resorts in the Balkan region are great and can lead to landscape degradation and loss of land functionality. In this study, we present an example of the negative effects of human activities at the Stara Planina ski resort in southeastern Serbia. The objective of this study is detailed analysis of the characteristics of environmental impacts at the Stara Planina. The management of the ski area and ski slope development caused severe degradation of topsoil and native vegetation. The morphological characteristics of the area, lithological properties of the exposed material and climate conditions resulted in various geomorphic impacts, including rills, deep gullies, solifluctions and debris from rock weathering. Significant changes in land usage altered hydrological conditions, resulting in more frequent torrential floods in the downstream sections of the Zubska River and increased the sediment yield. Environmental impacts were analyzed in the immediate and wider zones of the ski resort in accordance with the specific topography and visual exposure. The restoration and erosion control measures have stopped degradation processes and helped to rehabilitate the appearance and functions of the landscape. The results show the importance of considering lithological (the type and characteristics of minerals present) and hydrological (precipitation, water storage capacity of soil, runoff) factors under the conditions of significant changes in land usage. The results of this investigation can contribute to the improvement of planning processes and the implementation of development projects in ski areas.


Erosion processes Land degradation Ski runs Gully erosion Hydrological conditions 



This study was supported by the Serbian Ministry of Science within project 43007 (Investigation of climate changes and their influence on the environment: monitoring, adaptation and mitigation-subproject: Frequency of torrential floods and degradation of soil and water as a consequence of global changes). We also wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript that contributed to its improvement.


  1. Amo L, Lopez P, Martin J (2007) Habitat deterioration affects body condition of lizards: a behavioral approach with Iberolacerta cyreni lizards inhabiting ski resorts. Biological Conservation 135:77–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Appelo CAJ, Postma D (1993) Geochemistry. Groundwater and Pollution. Balkema, BrookfieldGoogle Scholar
  3. Balaganskayaa ER, Malinen KM (2000) Soil nutrient status and revegetation practices of downhill skiing areas in Finnish Lapland—a case study of Mt. Yllas. Landscape and Urban Planning 50:259–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bayfield NG (1996) Long-term changes in colonization of bulldozed ski pistes at Cairn Gorm, Scotland. Journal of Applied Ecology 33(6):1359–1365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bell S (1994) Visual Landscape Design Training manual. Recreation Branch Publication, British ColumbiaGoogle Scholar
  6. Bell S, Apostol D (2008) Designing sustainable forest landscapes. Taylor & Francis Group, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Brindley GW, Brown G (1980) Crystal structure of clay minerals and their X-ray identification. Mineralogical Society, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Bowyer-Bower TAS, Bryan, RB (1986) Rill initiation: concept and experimental evaluation on badland slopes. Zeitschrift fur Geomorphologie NF 60:161–175Google Scholar
  9. Bryan RB, Yair A, Hodges WK (1978) Factors controlling the initiation of runoff and piping in Dinosaur Provincial Park badlands, Alberta, Canada. Zeitschrift fur Geomorphologie NF Supplement Band 29:151–168Google Scholar
  10. Bryan RB, Imeson AC, Campbell IA (1984) Solute release and sediment entrainment on microcatchments in the Dinosaur park badlands, Alberta, Canada. Journal of Hydrology 71:79–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bureau of Trails, Department of Resources and Economic Development, Division of Parks and Recreation (2004) Best management practices for erosion control during trail maintenance and construction. Concord, New HampshireGoogle Scholar
  12. Burt JW, Rice KJ (2009) Not all ski slopes are created equal: disturbance intensity affects ecosystem properties. Ecological Applications 19(8):2242–2253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chang M (2003) Forest hydrology. CRC Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Chen H, Cai Q (2006) Impact of hillslope vegetation restoration on gully erosion induced sediment yield. Science in China: Series D Earth Sciences 49(2):176–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Danne JH, Topp GC (2002) Methods of soil analysis, part 4, physical methods, vol 5. Soil Science Society of America Book Series, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  16. Djorović M (1984) Determination of soil hydrologic class. Journal for Water Resources Management 87:57–60Google Scholar
  17. Dudley N (2008) Guidelines for applying protected area management categories. International Union for Conservation of Nature, GlandCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fattorini M (2001) establishment of transplants on machine-graded ski runs above timberline in the Swiss Alps. Restoration Ecology 2:119–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. “For Earth”, Environmental Association-Bulgaria (2007),
  20. Freppaz M, Lunardi S, Bonifacio E, Scalenghe R, Zanini E (2002) Ski slopes and stability of soil aggregates. Book Series: Advances in Geoecology 35:125–132Google Scholar
  21. Geneletti D (2008) Impact assessment of proposed ski areas: a GIS approach integrating biological, physical and landscape indicators. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 28:116–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gerits J, Imeson JM, Verstraten JM, Bryan RB (1987) Rill development and badland regolith properties. Catena Supplement 8:141–160Google Scholar
  23. Gomez B, Banbury K, Marden M, Trustrum NA, Peacock DH, Hoskin PJ (2003) Gully erosion and sediment production: Te Weraroa Stream, New Zealand. Water Resources Research 39(7):1187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Grismer ME, Eliss AL (2006) Erosion control reduces fine particles in runoff to Lake Tahoe. California Agriculture 2:72–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hodges WK, Bryan RB (1982) The influence of material behavior on runoff initiation in the Dinosaur badlands, Canada. In: Bryan R, Yair A (eds) Badland geomorphology and piping. Geo Books, Norwich, pp 13–46Google Scholar
  26. Imeson A, Kwaad FJPM, Verstraten JM (1982) The relationship of soil physical and chemical properties to the development of badlands in Morocco. In: Bryan R, Yair A (eds) Badland geomorphology and piping. Geo Books, Norwich, pp 47–69Google Scholar
  27. Institute for Nature Protection of Serbia (1999) Red book of threatened species. Ministry of Environment Protection and University of Belgrade Faculty of Biology, BelgradeGoogle Scholar
  28. Janković D (1994) Characteristics of intensive rainfall for territory of Serbia. Civil Engineering Manual, BelgradeGoogle Scholar
  29. Joint Committee on Powder Diffraction Standards (1976) Standard X-ray diffraction powder patterns. Department of Commerce, National Bureau of Standards, Institute for Materials Research, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  30. Jones JA, Grant GE (1996) Peak flow response to clear-cutting and roads in small and large drainage basins, western Cascades, Oregon. Water Resources Research 32:959–974CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jones JA, Post DA (2004) Seasonal and successional streamflow response to forest cutting and regrowth in the northwest and eastern United States. Water Resources Research 40:19–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kašanin-Grubin M (2006) Influence of clay mineralogy on rill system development on badland hillslopes. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Toronto, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  33. Kašanin-Grubin M, Bryan R (2007) Lithological properties and weathering response on badland hillslopes. Catena 70:68–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kisić I, Bašić F, Butorac A, Mesić M, Othmar N, Sabolić M (2005) Soil erosion under different tillage systems. Faculty of Agriculture, ZagrebGoogle Scholar
  35. Krautzer B, Peratoner G, Bozzo F (2004) Site-specific grasses and herbs. Plant production and protection series No. 32. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  36. Krautzer B, Wittmann H, Peratoner G, Graiss W, Partl C, Parente G, Venerus S, Rixen C, Streit M (2006) Site-specific high zone restoration in the alpine region: The current technological development, Federal Research and Education Centre (HBLFA). Raumberg-Gumpenstein, IrdningGoogle Scholar
  37. Krstić B, Kalenić M, Divljan M, Maslarević LJ, Djordjević M, Dolić D, Antonijević I (1970) Geological booklet of Basic Geologic Map 1:100,000 for Knjaževac and Belogradčik area, BelgradeGoogle Scholar
  38. Laiolo P, Rolando A (2005) Forest bird diversity and ski runs: a case of negative edge effect. Animal Conservation 8:9–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Levy GJ, Eisenberg H, Shainberg I (1993) Clay dispersion as related to soil properties and water permeability. Soil Science 155(1):15–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Macan G, Krstić M, Ristić R, Macan I (1997) Variability of erosion production as a consequence of thinning cuttings. In: The 3rd international conference on the development of forestry and wood science, proceedings, Belgrade, Serbia, pp 243–248Google Scholar
  41. Matto TD (2007) Conceptualizing a sustainable ski resort: a case study of Blue Mountain resort in Ontario, a thesis presented to the University of Waterloo. Waterloo, OntarioGoogle Scholar
  42. Motha JA, Wallbrink PJ, Hairsine PB, Grayson RB (2003) Determining the sources of suspended sediment in a forested catchment in southeastern Australia. Water Resources Research 39(3):ESG 2-1 to 2-4Google Scholar
  43. Nikić Z (2007) Technical Report-Geological and Hydrogeological conditions at ski resort “Stara Planina”. Forestry Faculty, BelgradeGoogle Scholar
  44. Nondedeu FI, Bédécarrats A (2007) Influence of alpine plants growing on steep slopes on sediment trapping and transport by runoff. Catena 71:330–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nondedeu FI, Rey F, Bedecarrats A (2006) Contributions of vegetation cover and cattle hoof prints towards seed runoff control on ski pistes. Ecological Engineering 27:193–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia No. 88 (2010) Law on Environmental ProtectionGoogle Scholar
  47. Oostwoud-Wijdenes DJ, Ergenzinger P (1998) Erosion and sediment transport on steep marly hillslopes, Draix, Haute-Provence, France: An experimental field study. Catena 33:179–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Popović T (2007) The tendency of air temperature changes and precipitation quantity in the region of the Republic of Serbia, Forests and Climate Changes. University of Belgrade Faculty of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Resources Management, Belgrade, pp 81–124Google Scholar
  49. Quirk JP, Schofield RK (1955) The effect of electrolyte concentration on soil permeability. Journal of Soil Science 6:163–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ries JB (1996) Landscape damage by skiing at the Schauinsland in the Black Forest, Germany. Mountain Research and Development 16:27–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ristić R (2003) Runoff lag time on torrential watersheds in Serbia. Journal of Forestry Faculty 87:51–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ristić R (2006) Runoff time of concentration on torrential watersheds in Serbia. Journal of Forestry Faculty 93:7–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ristić R, Macan G (1995) Influence of forest ecosystems on runoff process as the part of the global hydrologic cycle. In: The second international study conference on GEWEX in Asia and GAME, proceedings, Pattaya, Thailand, pp 327–329Google Scholar
  54. Ristić R, Macan G (2002) Interception process in fir-beech stands on mountain Goch. Journal of Forestry Faculty 86:181–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ristić R, Malušević I (2007) Feasibility study for erosion control and land conservation in the ski resort Stara Planina. Faculty of Forestry, BelgradeGoogle Scholar
  56. Ristić R, Kostadinov S, Malošević D, Spalević V (2001) Erosion aspect in estimation of hydrologic soil group and determination of runoff curve number CN. Soil and Plant 50:165–174Google Scholar
  57. Ristić R, Radivojević S, Nikčević R, Malušević I (2007) Erosion Control in ski areas. In: International conference: erosion and torrent control as factor in sustainable river basin management, proceedings (CD), BelgradeGoogle Scholar
  58. Ristić R, Radić B, Nikić Z, Vasiljević N (2008a) Technical report of erosion control works on ski-run Sunčana dolina-Stara Planina. Faculty of Forestry, BelgradeGoogle Scholar
  59. Ristić R, Radić B, Nikić Z, Vasiljević N (2008b) Environmental Impact Assessment-Ski run Sunčana dolina-Stara Planina. Faculty of Forestry, BelgradeGoogle Scholar
  60. Ristić R, Radić B, Nikić Z, Vasiljević N (2008c) Technical report of erosion control works on ski-runs Konjarnik 1 and 2. Faculty of Forestry, BelgradeGoogle Scholar
  61. Ristić R, Radić B, Nikić Z, Vasiljević N (2008d) Technical report of erosion control works at ski resort Kopaonik. Faculty of Forestry, BelgradeGoogle Scholar
  62. Ristić R, Radić B, Nikić Z, Vasiljević N (2008e) Technical report of erosion control works at ski run Briježđa-Nova Varoš. Faculty of Forestry, BelgradeGoogle Scholar
  63. Ristić R, Radić B, Vasiljević N (2009) Restoration of eroded surfaces in Serbian ski areas. Journal of Faculty of Forestry 100:31–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Selman P (2006) Planning at the landscape scale. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, Great BritainGoogle Scholar
  65. Soil Conservation Service (1979) National engineering handbook, section 4: hydrology. US Department of Agriculture, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  66. Troendle CA, Olsen WK (1994) Potential effects of timber harvest and water management on stream flow dynamics and sediment transport: USDA Forest Service, General Technical Report RM-247:34–41Google Scholar
  67. Tsuyuzaki S (1994) Environmental deterioration resulting from ski-resort construction in Japan. Environmental Conservation 21:121–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tsuyuzaki S (2002) Vegetation development patterns on ski slopes in lowland Hokkaido, northern Japan. Biological Conservation 108:239–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. USDA Forest Service (2001) Ski area BMPs (best management practices) guidelines for planning, erosion control, and reclamation, Salt Lake CityGoogle Scholar
  70. Wipf S, Rixen C, Fischer M, Schmid B, Stoeckli V (2005) Effects of ski piste preparation on alpine vegetation. Journal of Applied Ecology 42:306–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Yair A, Lavee RB, Bryan RB, Adar E (1980) Runoff and erosion processes and rates in the Zin valley badlands, Northern Negev, Israel. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 5:205–225Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ratko Ristić
    • 1
    Email author
  • Milica Kašanin-Grubin
    • 2
  • Boris Radić
    • 1
  • Zoran Nikić
    • 1
  • Nevena Vasiljević
    • 3
  1. 1.Ecological Engineering in Protection of Soil and Water ResourcesUniversity of Belgrade Faculty of ForestryBelgradeSerbia
  2. 2.Faculty of Environmental GovernanceEducons UniversitySremska KamenicaSerbia
  3. 3.Landscape ArchitectureUniversity of Belgrade Faculty of ForestryBelgradeSerbia

Personalised recommendations