The roof of Western Europe, reaching 4810 m, attracts more than 20,000 climbers each year aiming to reach the summit and up to 500 per day during the summer, while the overcrowding threshold is estimated at 300 and 400 people per day.
To regulate the number of visitor to the area and the activities on the summit of the Alps, the decree "creating the Mont Blanc natural habitat protection zone - an exceptional site" was signed on Thursday 1 October 2020 by the Prefect of Haute-Savoie (France) in the presence of Bérangère Abba, the Secretary of State for Biodiversity.
The natural protection zone of 3,175-hectare includes the areas of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Saint-Gervais and Les Houches. It is formed of a core area (2628 ha corresponding mainly to high-altitude alpine environments) and of two transition areas (576 ha of mid-altitude alpine environments). Among the main measures, the decree prohibits in the core zone the practice of any activity other than mountaineering, the combination of mountaineering and paragliding, paralpinism, skiing and snowboard-alpinism. Vehicles (motorised or not) are prohibited throughout the site, as well as the organisation of any kind of event.
The decree is based in particular on the environmental analysis drawn up by ASTERS - Conservatoire d'espaces naturels de Haute Savoie. This permitted to identify the existing risks for the natural heritage and the habitats that meet the criteria for designating a protection zone and has provided scientific criteria for determining this.
The creation of this protection zone on the Mont Blanc massif, while fully in line with the principles of the Alpine Convention, is a significant step for the preservation of natural heritage and for the sustainable tourism in the Alps.
See the full text of the prefecture's decree in French here