In winter, the Erzgebirge/Vogtland Nature Park is transformed into a Mecca for skiers.
Gliding silently through the landscape on skis is a wonderful way to combine sport, experiences in nature and relaxation. But the constantly rising number of skiers poses a problem for the environment. Acting considerately – particularly in winter, when the survival conditions for plants and animals are at their most harsh – is an absolute necessity if we are to preserve the beauty and recreational value of the landscape in the long term. Carelessly passing through protected areas damages delicate plants and startles animals that are sensitive to disturbances. Grouse, including black grouse, are endangered throughout Europe and are particularly threatened by disturbances of this kind. Plants in need of protection include dwarf shrubs such as small cranberries, crowberries, the mosses that are vital to the preservation and regeneration of the moors as well as bog pines and young trees.
To protect plants and animals, the Deutscher Skisportverband (German Skiing Association) has developed a number of basic rules which benefit both humans and nature:
Stay on the marked cross-country trails. The wildlife has adapted to people using the trails. Do not go off-piste or ski in undesignated areas. Take particular care to stay away from protected areas. Avoid making noise and do not go cross-country skiing at dusk or at night. Only ski when there is full snow coverage in order to avoid damaging plants. Take public transport to your holiday destination or the starting point of your day trip or try to carpool. This avoids unnecessary traffic jams on icy roads and reduces nitrogen oxide pollution in the forests.