Courmayeur - Val Ferret (ITA)

General geographic description of the municipality

Val Ferret is a side valley of the Municipality of Courmayeur, located in Aosta Valley Autonomous Region, North West of Italy. The valley, sub-parallel to the Mont Blanc massif, has an area of 92 km2 and is crossed by Doire de Ferret stream, a branch of the Dora Baltea, one of the main tributaries of the Po river. Val Ferret develops in steps, with a succession of small settlement along the valley bottom, traditionally not permanently inhabited, up to Col Ferret. The valley has relevant tourist flows in winter (cross country skiing, alpinism) and in summer (cycling, trekking, etc.) and many activities are connected with tourism (hotels, restaurants, camping). Moreover, Val Ferret is a Special Protection Area (SPA) (Directive 2009/147/EC) and Talweg of Val Ferret is a Site of Community Importance (SCI) (Directive 92/43/EEC).

What are the typical natural hazards endangering the municipality?

The typical natural hazards endangering the municipality are debris flow and avalanches, sometimes connected to the collapses from the great glaciers of the Mont Blanc massif (ex. Grandes Jorasses Glacier, Planpincieux Glacier). These events affect the municipal traffic system, civil buildings and people.

What is the role of the forest - especially the protection forests?

Both sides of Val Ferret are covered by forests. The right bank has steep rocky walls that descend from the peaks of the Mont Blanc massif (4000 m) up to about 1400 m of the valley bottom. The timberline on this North-West exposed side is about 1750 m. Many natural risks including avalanches and debris flows originate at higher altitudes than the timberline, sometimes connected with the collapses of the great glaciers above. These processes flows over stream incision on the mountain side and their frequency do not allow an effective presence of the forest in this area. The left bank, facing South-East has a more continuous forest cover from up to 2000 m. On this side the forest allows a better protection from natural hazards.

Why is the PAR part of GreenRisk4Alps?

Val Ferret has been included as PAR of GreenRisk4Alps being a tourist valley located in a high risk Alpine Region for all mass movement processes. Designing ecosystem-based and efficient risk management system for natural hazards, this PAR can be an example for many other areas of the Alpine Space.

What is the benefit for the PAR from participating in the project?

There are several tools that could be useful for the municipality in managing climate change and natural risks related issues. Val Ferret economy places great importance to touristic use, and a careful natural hazard management and communication towards the population and tourists are very important. Being classified as a PAR in the project will help develop tailor made tools to its necessities.

WEB LINK to the community:

Image top: Paolo Perret

Image bottom: Google Earth