Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
MtnGoat

Impact study shows climbing damages ecosytems

Recommended Posts

In areas where cliffside vegetation is common (like here) there is, little long term effect. BUT, in areas like the Escarpment or Skaha, where there are known effects on endangered species like bats which inhgabit cliffs exclusively, then perhaps managing climbing to protect endangered species makes sense. Sort of like obsering seasonal closures so raptors can nest, eg. on Freeway and so on.

I like at Smith how the golden eagles have chosen the chossy crags of the Monument to nest on so as not to create closures on popular cliffs. I guess they wouldnt get much peace if they decided to build a nest in the huecos on 5 Gallon Buckets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by MtnGoat:
You mean if impacts are small they don't count?

You kill countless bacteria every time you brush your teeth. Does that impact (a small one) count or not? rolleyes.gif" border="0

Size of impacts and what we can do about them determines our priorities for action. No sense in wasting effort acting on minor impacts when our time is constrained and there are bigger ones we can do something about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The L&M study had a incredibly small sample size, namely one small area of southern Ontario. However, the broad generalization that climbing hurts the ecosytem everywhere will be assumed. Unfortunately, scientific tests such as L&M's can usually be counted on to prove whatever the tester wants to prove. It's how the information is distributed that really counts. It's now up to the climbing community to show that climbing is far less harmful to the ecosystem than other uses of the resource.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder how likely it is that this study is applicable to different areas. Simply put, what is the lithology of the substrate at the Niagra escarpment and how specific is the lichen to that substrate. Do different species of lichen, with associated differences in growth, prefer different rock types? Is a limestone cliff ecosystem study applicable for managment policy on high alpine granite? I would guess that the answer is only partly so. Another question is what % of cliff area is actually affected by 'recreational climbing' and how uniform is that effect. Some areas will receive 100% removal of lichen species while others will be unaffected. Anecdotal 'science' is just that- anecdotal.

that said, it is probably another argument against grid bolting.

blush.gif" border="0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This sounds like a job for Self-Proclaimed Environmental Ethicist Man!!

As someone pointed out, and my handy carrying-capacity gauge agrees, there is a lot of rock out there and until someone can tell me that these lichens and vegetation, in this particular place, are endangered then I don't see a problem.

Humans and all other animals have always altered their environment. Studies like this one are part of the problem actually because they come from a mindset that allows people to think that we are not natural creatures (ie. we could avoid altering our environment by changing our behavior), this is not the case. Saying that "science now shows that climbing is harmful to the environment" is RIDICKEROUS and stupid. Climbing is a basic physiological response, but science? Now that crap is harmful to the environment!! Sounds like a couple of idiots chose a silly PhD thesis.

The questions we should be asking are; Should we climb somewhere else or at a different time? If we ban climbing here will we cause climbers to more heavily ipact other areas? Etc.

In my view climbers should use slings and other leaver hardware that leaves the least impact possible. Climbing has been an environmentally harmless activity for a long time until the en mass proliferation of bolts, chalk and those dorky boulderers who put maxi pads on the heather. We should place intense peer pressure on those who would make climbing look like desert motocross or we'll find ourselves on the wrong side of the environmental debate in no time at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Rock climbing harms cliff ecosystems

While it stands to reason that rock climbers might harm habitats such as the ancient, stunted forests that grow on cliffs around the world, there has been little unambiguous evidence that this is so. Now the first study to isolate rock climbing from other factors confirms that the sport damages cliff ecosystems. "Our work clearly shows that rock outcrop ecosystems suffer dramatically when exposed to recreational rock climbing," says Douglas Larson of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. This work is presented in the April issue of Conservation Biology by Larson and Michele McMillan, who is also of the University of Guelph.

The popularity of rock climbing has soared in North America over the last 20 years, disturbing areas that had been untouched for ages. However, previous studies on the ecological effects of rock climbing have been contradictory.

McMillan and Larson studied the ecological effects of rock climbing on vegetation (vascular plants, bryophytes and lichens) on the heavily-climbed limestone cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, which is near Toronto in southern Ontario. These cliffs have the most ancient forest east of the Rocky Mountains, with eastern white cedars that are more than 1,000 years old. The researchers compared the vegetation on three parts -- the top edge (plateau), the middle (cliff face) and the base (talus) -- of climbed and unclimbed cliffs.

The researchers found that rock climbing greatly decreases the diversity of vegetation on cliffs. Notably, climbed faces had only 4% as many vascular plant species as those that were unclimbed. Moreover, the diversity of bryophytes and lichens in climbed areas were roughly 30 and 40% of that in climbed areas, respectively.

Rock climbing also decreases the cover of vegetation on cliffs. For vascular plants, the cover on climbed plateau and talus was roughly 60% of that on unclimbed areas. For bryophytes, the cover on climbed plateau and talus was about a fifth of that on unclimbed areas. While climbing did not affect the extent of lichen cover, it did change the types of species that grow on cliffs. Delicate lichen species were replaced by tough ones: in unclimbed areas the most common lichens are so fragile that they crumble to the touch, while in climbed areas the most common lichens are so sturdy that they can even withstand rubbing.

McMillan and Larson also found that in climbed areas, the proportion of non-native plants was three times higher (81 vs. 27%). Rock climbing reduces plant density, thus increasing the number of sites where non-native plants can grow. Furthermore, rock climbers can introduce seeds and living pieces of non-native plants via their shoes, clothing and equipment.

To help protect cliff ecosystems, McMillan and Larson recommend banning new climbing routes in protected areas along the Niagara Escarpment, and explaining why to rock climbing associations and schools. "Recreationists are far more likely to abide by management plans when they are aware of the ecological rationale behind the restrictions," say the researchers."

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2002-04/sfcb-rch040102.php

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the big question locally is, are the moss, slugs, trees and so on found at Squamish and Index endangered or not? I doubt it.

cliff ecosystems are more important to endangered species in the dry interior ie at Skaha and whatnot.

a cleaned but rarely climbed route at Squamish will completely regrow in 10 years. thats way faster than a clearcut that takes 200+ years to return to old forest dominance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bolted routes on Canopy Crag at Little Si are nothing more than shiny hangars sticking out of vertical carpets of moss. Those routes were bolted in the mid-90's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

what zeno said!!!!!

plus you see all the raptor closures....sure i'll repsect them, but the only people i have ever heard of fucking with the birdz is the biologists, who want to save them......sup wit dat....

soundz like religion and science are wrecking our world..join the church of erik....we are fun!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh but kid are so cute... untill they grow up and become jackasses like us... This world is never going to be the same as it was when it started the vegitation and habitats in this world have changed over and over again... But now all of a sudden man has grown a consence, and now wonts to keep the world as it was in the beging... yeh right... come on we need not destroy it, be we need not protect it either... why don't we just start nockin off humans that have no use in the world... by my count that would take out about half of the threat... [laf] ... ok a litttle out there... [laf]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mother Nature is remarkedly resilient. She'll take care of her own, when push comes to shove. Hang on for the ride boys...the end is near! cool.gif" border="0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I climbed on the Niagra Escarpment back in the '70's, and at that time there were at least three separate very popular areas, all within about 25 miles of Toronto, where the routes were developed very close together -- as close as you see on a modern sport crag -- but there were almost no bolts. I just ran a google search and found a description that indicates there has been a lot of bolting since then (big surprise!), but I would guess that the impact might be similar, if not as extensive, if the area saw thirty years of use at the levels it experienced in the 70's -- whether or not bolts were added. It was not uncommon to find parties lined up for climbs every ten feet along the cliff, and they were not shy about removing moss, turning over rocks at the base to make a better belay seat, or slinging nearly dead trees along the cliff edge. There were other areas along the escarpment that were further from Ontario, and these saw much less usage.

The Niagra Escarpment limestone was quit steep -- mostly vertical with blocky overhangs all over the place, and it was almost all done on natural pro. There were no camming devices available, but stoppers and hex's were placed between and behind blocks that often looked loose but were surprisingly solid. It was a FUN area, overlooking woods and farmland and Lake Ontario in the distance.

http://www.climbers.org/rock/rock.html#Rattlesnake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Impact study shows falling rocks damage head

It makes about as much sense as this study. Did it really take a scientist to figure out removing moss and stomping on it will damage the moss??

The only highlight is that it was Canadian funding who paid for it. (I hope)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, it doesn't take a scientist to generate anecdotal evidence, but it does to generate controlled, testable evidence that can be used for actual impact measurements later.

Lots of folks justifiably complain about claimed impacts being a lot of arm waving, having someone do it right, or at least in a manner that's competent and reviewable, moves the debate out of the arbitrary sphere and into one where data means something because you can review the entire process.

So even though it seems picky and simple, and in many ways it is simple work, it's still worth doing IMO, so the debates over impact become discussions about measurable conditions instead of anecdotal arguments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My measurements indicate that the tree people use when they're top-roping the small flow next to the Alpental quad lift doesn't really have any bark left around the anchor slings. As I bolstered the anchor with an extra sling and hooked my rope up to the whole thing I was thinking, this is kinda sad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Too many humans. Too small of a cage. Soon we bugs will party. Climbers are of no consequence. They are far outnumbered by practitioners of far more common sports and activities. This is a microcosmic study on all levels. Somebody needed a thesis.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got a little freaked out when Fairweather agreed with me -had to check myself. Lest anyone think I'm not a rabid greenie allow me to qualify.

First, I believe in the Endangered Species Act but I think it is poorly written because it cops out by not making any judgement over what to save first (we can't save them all unfortunately). It is supposed to protect ecosystems but does nothing close because it does not give any preference to key species and does not mandate study of what species are most vital.

Second, my understanding of humans as natural creatures tells me that we need to believe in what we're doing in regards to the environment in order to make our efforts successful in the long run. In my personal experience climbers are environmentally inclined (even if they subscribe to another ideology on the surface). Perhaps the biggest driver of environmental opinion and action comes from our aesthetic ideals for nature. Climbing is part of that or we would not stand in awe of a mountain or rock face. Therefore, if we place climbers at odds with the environment (as this study does) we risk changing climber's (and the public's) perception of climbing from one of respect for nature to a haughty abhorrence of it.

Third, I think too many people, right and left, subscribe blindly to an ideology and would follow it off a cliff if it led there. These scientists illustrate how environmentalists tend to do that by saying (or at least insinuating) "Climbing is harming lichen, so maybe they should ban it". Hearing Cheney say that it is not reasonable to base a national energy policy on conservation is just as narrowminded. The fallacy in both statements is that neither one asks what serves the greater good of people AND the rest of nature. You can't fight for one over the other because the sound of one hand clapping is....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×