Ignasi Puig (ENT) and Gabriel Weber (ENT fellow) are the authors of the chapter entitled “Climate Change and Adaptation in Rural Areas: An Integrated Case Study of Winter Tourism and Mountain Agriculture in the Catalan Pyrenees” published as part of the book “Meeting Challenges for Rural Tourism through Co-Creation of Sustainable Tourist Experiences”. The book has been published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing this September.
The Catalan Pyrenees have been exposed to fast and radical land-use changes in a very short time-frame. Now, as a vulnerable Mediterranean mountain ecosystem the area has to adapt faster than the more climate change resilient European Alps. The adaptation actions will go hand in hand with further land consumption and increased pressure on hydro ecosystems due to their water footprint (e.g. snow cannons, indoor pools). Hence the challenges of climate change adaptation in winter tourism will lead to a depletion of natural resources and to further land-use conflicts. In some villages land-use conflicts occur between the use of meadows (previously used to maintain farms) and development of tourist infrastructure (urbanization, sports resorts, roads, etc.). This leads to the marginalization of primary activities and the loss of agricultural and pastoral resources. Nevertheless, due to climate change some agricultural activities are likely to become more productive. This may lead to a re-evaluation of the various functions agriculture plays in mountain regions, beyond the production of food. However, empirical investigations providing quantitative data on the economic and employment effects of climate change and adaptation in winter tourism and mountain agriculture are still missing and therefore provide avenues for further research. Several scholars have emphasized the need to sustain mountain agriculture and livestock in tourism-based development models. Landscape conservation in mountain areas can only be ensured by maintaining settlements as well as social and economic activities and by conserving cultural landscapes. In general, this is not possible without maintaining mountain agriculture. If, on the other hand, the tourism industry makes it difficult to maintain extensive livestock lands, one source of income is lost and excessive dependence on tourism results.