Bioregional Impacts, Ecological Implications, and Recommendations — 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy
Guard Fox Watch Report, August, 2003
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Bioregional Context
Susceptibility to Impacts
The Bioregional Approach
Recommendations for Bioregional Implementation of Olympic Games Environmental Guides and Safeguards
(Response to “Atti Della Regione – Atti Dello Stato,
Sommario Parte 1-II”, Bolletino Ufficiale Piemonte, Torino 18 Aprile 2001)
Cable lift Facilities
Olympic and Media Village
Roads and Transport
Guard Fox Watch Monitoring Committee
Guard Fox Watch (GFW) is an international NGO association of groups and
individuals concerned with the bioregional impacts and ecological implications
of the Winter Olympic Games. It currently has active member groups in Italy,
Japan and the United States, and communicates with a worldwide network of
ecologically oriented organizations. Since 1996, GFW has visited, monitored,
assessed, made recommendations about, and reported on the 1998 Nagano and 2002
Salt Lake City Games. (Extensive reports and accounts can be found at
In February 2003, GFW representatives visited the International Olympic
Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin Organizing Committee (TOROC)
in Turin, Italy to discuss and review ecological considerations surrounding the
2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games. The TOROC’s Environmental Committee staff was
our hosts over the course of three days. They discussed the role of TOROC, gave
a presentation about environmental preparations, and provided a tour of sites in
outdoor venues and the city of Turin.
This report is a response based on our observations and reading about TOROC’s
environmental preparedness and planning for the 2006 Winter Games. It covers the
time period from the present (mid-2003) to the inception of the Games, and after
Although GFW members made frequent comments at the time of our visit, there was
much detailed information from TOROC that needed to be absorbed. Consequently,
those comments were insufficiently discussed and they were not formally
recorded. Additionally, some key documents were not available in any language
but Italian during the visit. Official English versions promised by June 2003
have still not been received at this time.
The Bollettino Ufficiale Regione Piemonte, “Atti Della Regione- Atti
Dello Stato” (Official Bulletin of the Piedmonte Region, “Duties of
the Region – Duties of the State”) is the primary source for TOROC’s
environmental guidelines, and the basic document referred to in this report. All
direct quotes in this report are from that document. It was translated by a GFW
member after the February 2003 visit, which accounts for the lengthy interval in
preparing our response.
The Bioregional Context
The 2006 Winter Olympic Games will take place within the natural systems of the
western headwaters of the Po River Basin Bioregion. A bioregion is defined by
the unique combination of natural characteristics within a specific area such as
climate, landforms, watersheds, soils, native plants and animals, and aspects of
human culture that adapt harmoniously to those features.
An assessment of bioregional impacts caused by the Winter Olympic Games views
the general area where they occur to be a living whole. From a bioregional
perspective, humans share the place in partnership with native ecosystems and
other natural phenomena. It is a primary responsibility of human activity -
including the Winter Games - to harmonize with these natural characteristics.
The major feature of this part of the Po River Basin Bioregion is an arc of
Alpine peaks, foothills and valleys that forms the initial source of the Po
River. It also includes the first part of the river itself, that enters and
leaves the city of Turin before flowing on through the whole bioregion and
emptying into the Adriatic Sea.
This area exhibits great extremes in weather and pronounced seasonal changes.
There is a wide array of natural features beginning with sheer uplifted peaks of
the Alps Mountains that are covered year-round with ice and snow. Below the
peaks are high-altitude rocky meadows that support only light vegetation. These
are followed by forest-covered foothills. Still lower are valleys with light
soils and gravel surfaces that can support agriculture. Finally there is the
beginning of flat plains with rich loam topsoil and extensive farms. The
mountains and foothills are geologically unstable terrain owing to falling
rock outcrops and avalanches, land shifts and subsidence, and earthquakes. Water
resources are abundantly fed by seasonal rain and snow, and range from snowmelt
rivulets, waterfalls, high altitude marshes, springs, ponds, lakes, and creeks
to sizable rivers that join to form the Po. The velocity of flowing water is
generally fast and there is regular flooding in both the mountains and
lowlands.. Plant and animal ecosystems are diverse due to the broad range of
habitats and seasonal differences. They are, however, sparsely distributed over
typically steep terrain with narrow valleys and thin soils.
Human inhabitation is dependent for fundamental necessities on unique
bioregional phenomenon. The basic diet in the Alps Mountains and foothills is
founded on considerable animal husbandry for meat, milk and cheese that relies
on prolific fast-growing summer grass for grazing which also stored as winter
hay. Migrating herds travel from Alpine meadows in the summer to valley pastures
and barns in the winter. Farming of grains, vegetables and fruit is limited by
steep ground surfaces and often utilizes terracing to retain limited soil and
maximize the benefit of water. The primary energy source for heat has
historically been wood from the forest. Native stone and wood are the basic
The regional population has increased during the last century through rapid
urban development. Rural areas have also grown, which is especially visible
during winter months with second homeowners and visitors on sport vacations.
Environmental impacts through construction, road and highway building, fossil
fuel use, transportation of imported supplies, garbage, sewage, water and air
pollution, and other means have reached a critical stage that greatly threatens
the continued healthy functioning of natural systems.
The Alps Mountains play an essential role in the ecology of all Europe. Because
of their central position on the continent, they are a primary water source for
many of the significant rivers.Soils and nutrients that wash down from
the mountains are responsible for the richness of farmlands and ecosystems for
hundreds of miles on all sides. The mountains are a major factor in air and
weather systems that operate throughout Europe and interact significantly with
Susceptibility to Impacts
The appearance of sharply outlined, snowy Alpine peaks is deceiving for
understanding the most significant aspects in the life of this region.
Mountaintops probably represent less than one per cent of the total land area in
this region. They are only the outer rim of downward-sloping mountain sides that
make up the vast majority of land surfaces. Contrary to the impression they
create, the Alps Mountains are actually more fragile in structure and life-
supporting capability than flatter places. Soil that would be essential for
denser plant life is constantly carried away downhill by both geological
disturbances and swift- moving water. There is greater overall damage from
routine environmental interruptions because the sloping land surfaces greatly
intensify the effects of rapid land shifts and rushing floodwaters.
Human impacts on the unique and vulnerable natural realities of sloping land,
fast-moving water, light soil, and limited biota are also magnified in
comparison to flat places. Destruction of habitat through land clearing,
construction and roads brings about extinctions and loss of biodiversity at an
accelerated rate because of the thinness of elements that support life. Covering
open land areas with constructions and paving decreases the water dispersing
function of ground surfaces. This has become a major factor in creating greater
flooding both locally and throughout the Po Valley. Air pollution from wood
smoke and fossil fuel emissions is more persistent because it is trapped in the
bowl-shaped mountain valleys, representing a high health hazard for plant,
animal and human life. Land and water pollution are greatly intensified because
of the tendency of any dangerous substances, which are released to remain more
concentrated when they travel downhill over rocky surfaces. Pollutants
subsequently appear in a less diluted form when they eventually gather in low
spots and water bodies. Like flooding that originates in the mountains and
spreads throughout the Po Valley, water pollution not only impacts local life
but can be carried as far away as the Adriatic Sea.
The Bioregional Approach
There is an urgent need to restore and maintain living
systems in bioregions at this time because they have been seriously compromised
during the contemporary era. The Winter Olympics should contribute to improving
conditions by exhibiting sustainability in every possible way and not add to
further destruction. In addition, the Games should help insure the future of
bioregions by leaving behind significant ecological methodologies and tools for
achieving local self-reliance and sustainability.
The scope of understanding environmental impacts that
result from staging the 2006 Winter Olympics in the Turin area should be
expanded to reflect bioregional considerations. Although they are well-intended
and more detailed than environmental measures taken by previous host cities for
the Winter Games, TOROC has used an approach which is mainly conditioned by
factors of human activities, venue areas, and necessities of event production.
This direction emphasizes merely minimizing destructive environmental impacts
during the period up to and during the Winter Games. It doesn’t go far enough
considering the urgent plight of the bioregion, or the spirit of the goals
mandated by the IOC and the EU. There needs to be a policy of actually improving
the seriously deteriorating urban and rural environments to benefit the Po River
Basin Bioregion long after the Games are ended.
In order to be ecologically responsible in presenting the 2006 Winter Games, the
list of environmental goals which TOROC has adopted and the technical means to
reach them need to be based on the sustainability of natural ecosystems as well
as human inhabitation. The geographic area of concern must extend beyond the
confines of the venues themselves (Val di Susa, Val Chisone and the city of
Turin) to encompass the entire western area of the Po River watershed.
Recommendations for Bioregional Implementation of Olympic Games
Environmental Guides and Safeguards
(A Response to “Atti Della Regione – Atti Dello Stato, Sommario Parte I
– II”, Bolletino Ufficiale Regione Piemonte, Torino 18 Aprile 2001)
Territory and Landscape
The 2006 Winter Olympic Games will significantly impact the western headwaters
area of the Po River watershed(described above).There is
continuous direct damage to natural systems from development of Olympics
facilities and infrastructure, and there are increasing indirect effects from
human population loads.
Need for Bioregional Monitoring and Measurement
“Evaluation of natural and urban landscapes undertaken for restoring
distinctive elements of the territory” is cited by “Atti Della Regione –
Atti Dello Stato” in recognition of anticipated damage from the Winter
Olympics. The nature and extent of these impacts can only be determined through
monitoring of basic ecological conditions, both in the vicinity of the sports
venues and throughout the entire region. Principal conditions that require
measurement include air quality, water availability and pollution, garbage,
sewage, native plant and animal populations, natural habitat and ecosystems,
energy production and use, soil removal and disruption, as well as less
pervasive environmental factors. It is essential that a genuinely thorough,
region-wide system for measuring these be in place no later than January 2004 so
that changes in conditions may be determined and corrective actions undertaken
as soon as possible beforehand and while the Games are in progress. Regular
monitoring of the same factors should also be undertaken for at least two years
after the Winter Olympics.
Guidelines for Development and Increased Human loads
A unified set of enforced guidelines should be in place by 2004 for all aspects
of development, construction, and ongoing operations that impact natural
conditions either directly or through increasing human loads because of the
Olympics. Buildings, service facilities, venues, road systems, parking lots, and
other public structures (either already in place, under construction, or planned
for use during the Games) need to be undertaken without interference to
waterways, ecosystems of native plant and animal species, wild habitat, soils,
or other natural elements.
The loads on public services infrastructures for water, energy, transportation,
solid wastes, sewage, and other necessities need to be monitored for the same
time period 2004-2006. Modifications need to be made before 2006 to eliminate
additional burdens up to and during the Games that would damage natural
conditions. These changes should be conceived in such a way that they create
maximum future benefits for the whole bioregional community.
Ecological Mandate for Restoration
“Requalification of the natural landscape” as mandated by “Atti Della
Regione – Atti Dello Stato” should be accomplished through a bioregional
approach. Restoration of damaged native plant and animal species, ecosystems,
habitats, waterways, soil, geological features, and landscapes needs to be
undertaken with the goal of ultimately fostering conditions of wildness. Dammed
or diverted water courses should be returned to a natural state, and disturbed
soils and land forms need to be rebuilt in their original forms wherever
possible. Only local native plants should be used for revegetation, and it is
imperative to develop a program to restore native animals.
Creating bioregional energy self-reliance is a foundational element of
sustainability. There are two main directions that need to be followed for
accomplishing this. The most obvious is to refit all possible forms of consuming
energy for conservation. This applies to factories and processing plants, office
and residence buildings, transportation vehicles, heating and cooling
facilities, appliances, and any other uses. Refitting extends through a wide
range of modifications from reconstructing structural features of buildings such
as installing heat absorbing walls, to adding devices for household appliances
that reduce the amount of electricity used.
The greatest change is to convert energy sources from non-renewable fossil fuels
and nuclear power to renewable sources including solar, falling water, wind,
biomass, and others that occur within the Po River Basin Bioregion.
The occasion of the 2006 Winter Games should be the opportunity for carrying out
these changes in major ways. This can be done by initiating both energy
conservation and use of renewable forms of energy to the fullest extent possible
at the athletes’ facilities and sports venues, as well as in power facilities,
transportation, hotels, restaurants, and any other public aspects of staging the
Games. People who attend Olympic events should be informed about the alternative
energy techniques that are employed so that they can learn how to use them to
achieve sustainability when they return home. Improvements should be undertaken
with a view toward permanence so that facilities can continue to be used for
renewable energy conservation and production in the bioregion after the Games
At present, supplies of natural gas and electricity in the areas that will be
directly affected by the Games are highly inadequate. The Bollettino Ufficiale
states that natural gas capacity for the Turin Winter Olympics will be
sufficient because it is currently double the amount of usual consumption, and
TOROC’s Green Card foresees that Olympics attendance will only be thirty per
cent greater than in a typical winter period. These forecasts are seriously
underestimated. The 2000 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan brought more than five
times the normal number of people to the city. There is no reason to expect that
there will be fewer spectators in Europe where the featured events are much more
popular. It is reasonable to assume an additional population load of five
hundred per cent at the Winter games sites, and that the increase will out-strip
gas supplies. To avoid such shortages new renewable sources for energy uses
currently met by gas should be developed. Unquestionably, overall demand for
electricity will also be elevated, and to accommodate it some new heating plants
and additional power lines are planned. Unfortunately, these do not emphasize
significant large-scale conservation measures (except for one co-generation
heating system at Sestriere) or decentralized means for renewable energy
production. In addition, some of the new power lines will be buried underground
for cosmetic environmental value. Trenching to install them and subsequent
repair would create ecological costs involved with disturbing habitat,
ecosystems, plant and animal populations, soil, and geological conditions for a
planned distance of eighteen kilometers. Regardless of these planned measures,
there is a high probability that demand for electricity will be even higher than
expected with the influx of people similar to Nagano, Japan. All of the problems
cited above can be significantly reduced or eliminated by development of new,
decentralized sources of renewable energy to produce electricity.
“Atti Della Regione – Atti Dello Stato” recognizes the need “to contain
energy consumption and to maximize the use of renewables.” Expansion of the
present infrastructures for providing energy is not the sustainable way to
accomplish this. First, there should be a fully comprehensive plan for energy
reduction/donation on a decentralized basis for all aspects of energy supply and
use. Local factories in Turin should be able to make reductions and donate some
energy supplies. Other municipalities in the western headwaters area of the Po
River can contribute as well, and even those on the French side of the border.
There should be strong encouragement and support for as
many ways of producing and conserving energy as possible, both large-scale and
small-scale. The funds presently planned for building new generators or power
lines should be redirected to create mini-hydro-electric systems of temporary
small dams and sluices can be created and solar panels and wind turbines could
be installed in government buildings, schools, factories, businesses,
households, and other public places. Individual refitting of homes, vehicles,
and other types of private energy consumption could be implemented through
programs involving all citizens. Ingenious techniques (such as Olympic athletes
providing electric power while using exercise equipment) can be explored and
All forms of refuse produced in this part of the Po River
Basin Bioregion have a potential to greatly threaten the ecology of the whole
region. At present a high percentage of wastes is buried in landfills which ruin
soil and pollute water sources, burned to create air pollution and toxic
residues, or transported elsewhere for disposal, which consumes large amounts of
energy. A significant portion is illegally dumped or discarded as litter into
landscapes, natural water courses, or city sewers to cause innumerable types of
There are two ways to deal with the garbage problem that
are truly sustainable: (a) eliminating the production of wastes, and (b)
recycling of discarded materials. Eliminating wastes can be accomplished in a
surprising number of ways. Industrial refuse originates mainly from aspects of
production which can be carried out in ways that don’t produce wastes. Ashes
from burning coal can be eliminated by using waste-free renewable energy. There
should be restrictions on the amount of packaging for materials that industries
consume to produce goods. Production processes can be streamlined to avoid
creating trimmings and other rubbish. Restaurants and hotels can follow similar
policies for the large volume of energy, food and cleaning materials they
consume. Household garbage contains a high percentage of packaging from food and
consumer goods that can be largely eliminated simply through reusing bags,
containers, and bottles, and by restricting goods which come in non-reusable
containers such as metal cans. Organic kitchen wastes can be eliminated as a
component of garbage by composting them at home to make useful garden soil.
Recycling is the most significant activity for reducing the amount of refuse
that otherwise ends up in dumps, landscapes, bodies of water, or smoke. To be
sustainable, the goal should always be to eventually achieve Zero Waste through
One Hundred Percent Recycling. Every source of waste needs to be completely
reviewed. Power production and other utility facilities, factories, construction
projects, government buildings, office complexes, hospitals, schools, small
businesses, households, and all other sources need to be included. All forms of
wastes have to be evaluated for the most efficient types of recycling or reuse.
These activities should be coordinated from the perspective of using recycled
materials for various purposes throughout the whole bioregion.
The types of materials handled through recycling consist mainly of paper,
metals, glass, plastic, wood, demolition rubble, chemicals, reusable parts, and
organic materials. They are all capable of producing income to pay for carrying
out recycling programs and other public purposes. Materials can generate money
both sorted and sold for directly, or after being processed into a surprisingly
large number of value-added products such as building materials, compost for
farming, recycled paper items, metalwork, park furniture, public sculpture,
jewelry, decorations, and more. Recycling reduces public and private
expenditures by making materials and products available more cheaply, and saves
the cost of energy by closing the distances between places where resources are
obtained and where they are consumed.
Preparations for the 2006 Turin Olympic Games have already contributed somewhat
to an increase of waste production. The increases in human numbers of at least
five times above normal that can reasonably be expected will certainly overload
existing facilities. Starting with construction sites, wastes steadily mount in
type and quantity until reaching a peak during the 2006 events that will
severely strain and overburden existing means for treating them. Unmatched
amounts of garbage will accumulate from every service facility associated with
accommodating the large numbers of attendees, including not only hotels,
restaurants, and event sites at full occupancy, but also grocery stores,
garages, bars, department stores, shops, hair salons, and other retail
businesses. Public waste collection for everything from businesses and
households to sidewalk trash receptacles and hospital discards will reach record
levels. Littering of landscapes will be at an all-time high. In addition, there
will be significantly greater amounts of waste from high-end consumer goods
bought by Olympics attendees that generally feature more packaging.
The provisions for handling garbage in the immediate
vicinity of the Games and throughout the western headwaters of the Po River are
not sufficient to protect the bioregion at present or make it sustainable in the
future. The Bollettino states that ACEA and ACSEL basins can contain the
expected increases in garbage production. In fact, they do not presently
subscribe to the bioregionally sustainable guidelines that have been outlined
above. The Bollettino admits that the AMIAT basin of the Turin metropolitan area
is unprepared for the Olympic influx of people, but its recommendations are
inadequate to deal with the full impact of the loads that will be generated
before and during the Games. The refuse plans for this area should be redrawn to
account for factors described above, and reconceived with an eye for future
To prevent an inundation of garbage, there needs to be an
immediate emphasis on developing local Zero Waste plans and infrastructures to
eliminate refuse, collect waste-resources, and distribute recycled materials.
These plans should then be coordinated with any others in the whole Po River
Basin Bioregion and appropriate programs should be in operation before winter
The way in which water is viewed and dealt with is at the
heart of the bioregional approach to sustainability. It reveals the difference
between using methods aimed at restoring and maintaining water supplies to
sustain life, and the conventional Industrial Era practice of exhausting and
polluting water resources. This report has repeatedly acknowledged the central
importance of water by referring to the Olympics area as the western headwaters
of the Po River Basin Bioregion. Emphasis must be placed on watersheds when
planning for sustainable human and natural communities, for the immediate
vicinity of the Games as well as the entire Po River.
The ways that human beings interact with local sources of
water and supplies extend far beyond just tapping it for collection so that it
can be piped away for various uses. All of the points of contact need to be
considered because they will be highly impacted by the Winter Games.
Winter snow is a primary source of water runoff. When snow
covering on the ground melts away in summer it carries into nearby bodies of
water pollutants which have accumulated. This pertains to all of the outdoor
places where activities take place. Exhaust and other fossil fuel contaminants
on roadways and parking lots, garbage on pedestrian grounds of sports venues,
and discards on sidewalks and landscapes all contribute pollution. All outdoor
recreational uses made of snow by Olympic athletes and vacationers will have
pollutive repercussions for water in underground reservoirs of springs and
wells, as well as ponds, lakes, creeks, and rivers. The number of dangerous
potential contaminants that people and vehicles can deposit on snow either
intentionally or by accident is extensive. In addition, direct pollution by
effluents and rubbish discarded into ponds, lakes, creeks, and rivers will
increase from heavier use through exposure to a greater population.
Reuse of water is a key factor in achieving sustainability.
Water that has been used once in a light way such as for washing bodies, clothes
or dishes can be used again for heavier uses including flushing toilets, hosing
down buildings, and watering parks and gardens. One quarter to one third of all
water consumption can be reduced in this way. The mechanism required to reuse
water is simple. Dual piping systems (one for pure water and one for used
water), small pumps, and water filters are all that is required.
The Bollettino concedes that the water resources and
pollution situation in the immediate area of the Games is critical. This is also
the case throughout the western headwaters area and the whole Po River Basin
Bioregion. Achieving water sustainability is imperative but will be extremely
difficult. It is important that the measures undertaken in preparing for the
2006 Winter Olympics make a positive contribution. First, sources for water
should be greatly improved by increasing and diversifying the number of water
catchment systems on roofs of buildings and other places that can be replenished
by rain and melted snow. Water collection and storage devices can be readily
bought or constructed. Users of large amounts of water such as factories,
hotels, restaurants, and sports venues are especially important, but office
buildings, shops and homes can also be made more water self-reliant with rain
and snow catchment systems. Increasing the number of private wells will also
help relieve the burden on the present systems.
Second, there needs to be a thorough review and enforcement of water
conservation measures. These would extend over the widest possible range to
prevent water waste by industry, businesses, offices and private homes.
Participation of athletes’ facilities and sports venues is absolutely
necessary. Water conservation is highly effective in significantly reducing
Third, water reuse is practiced on a very small scale at
present, but converting plumbing systems to use water twice needs to become more
widespread to solve the looming problem of insufficient water supplies. Taking
this step in Olympics athletes’ facilities and sports venues is imperative.
Water reuse should also be featured in every sports venue, restaurant and hotel
that hosts attendees at the Games. A review of all the other places where water
reuse facilities can be installed should be soon made as soon as possible in
order to be fully operational for the 2006 Games.
Carrying out the measures described above should be more
than sufficient to meet the challenge to water supplies brought by the Olympics,
including making artificial snow. No new dams or basins to store water need to
be built. Constructing more water containment facilities of the present type
will cause greater diversion of natural water courses and ecological disruption.
It is likely to increase the chances for future problems because it provides a
false justification for unsustainable development of buildings, houses,
highways, and roads: that there is enough capacity.
Pollution of water supplies will be reduced if source
points for chemicals, sewage, waste water, road runoff, and other types of
dangerous materials are identified and eliminated. This requires a thorough
enforced program of compliance with means to reduce water use and properly
dispose of waste water. This program needs to be implemented by 2006 in the
Turin Olympics area, and throughout the western headwaters of the Po River
Cable Lift Facilities
Construction and use of cable lift systems reduce foot and vehicle traffic up
and down steep slopes, but this partial benefit is achieved at the cost of
significant impacts on habitats, ecosystems, and animal populations where they
operate. The manner in which lift facilities are constructed and used is an
important example of how a bioregional perspective can maintain and restore
There needs to be a thorough natural environment inventory
in a wide area around lift destination and stanchion sites before construction
begins. This is the only way to obtain an accurate guide for restoring the
affected areas. Any new construction of lift stanchions and destination points
should be designed as only temporary features which will be removed at the
conclusion of the Games. They must not interfere with the continuity of natural
elements which include landforms, watercourses, soil, ecosystems, and
populations of native plants and animals. To accomplish this, as little space as
possible should be used for construction, no landscaping should be employed, and
ground covering such as asphalt or cement avoided.. Transportation to and from
these sites should be reserved for public transportation; other vehicles can be
totally prohibited. Use of parking facilities needs to be restricted to public
transport vehicles. Parking lots should be left unpaved with border ditches to
direct snowmelt runoff to monitoring and filtering devices.Pedestrian
access can be limited to narrow pathways. These measures should also be employed
in the redesign of already existing lift facilities.
During operation of lifts, noises that disturb wildlife
should be reduced to a minimum through extensive quieting of machinery and
cushioning of contact points between cables and conveyances. Passengers should
be advised about the need for quiet. Night operations need to be drastically
reduced or eliminated entirely. If this cannot be done, night use should be kept
to the strictest minimum. Exterior lights could be completely eliminated, and
lights for interior spaces such as cable cars or destination structures reduced
to a minimum and kept away from windows.
Lift facilities should be removed shortly after the
conclusion of the Olympic Games. All roads and paths need to be removed and
complete revegetation of the sites and surrounding areas should be undertaken
using the original natural environment inventory as a guide. Replanting should
use only native species found in the specific locale. Provisions also need to be
made for attracting wildlife back onto the entire hill or mountainside where a
venue was located. Monitoring the success of restoration efforts needs to
continue at three-month intervals for several years.
Olympic and Media Villages
The Olympic Villages and Media Villages present an
opportunity for demonstrating ways that people can carry out some basic
activities of daily life in ways that are sustainable and harmonize with the
bioregion. The practical and instructional value that these heavily used and
highly visible sites can offer as model sustainable communities shouldn’t be
wasted. Ecological measures that are incorporated in Olympic and Media Villages
should be left behind to help create a more sustainable future.
Buildings should be constructed using locally available and
recycled materials. Their designs can include many built-in structural features
to conserve energy and collect rain or snowmelt water. The Villages can be
planned to demonstrate self-reliance by generating their own supplies of
electrical and heat energy from local alternative sources. Every application of
energy can exhibit ways to reduce consumption. Each site can have systems for
recycling all forms of waste that are produced. Food can be organically grown
and supplied by small-scale, local farmers. Dual water systems could make it
possible to reuse wash and shower water for other purposes such as cleaning
buildings and equipment or watering the grounds. Sewage needs to be biologically
treated using compost toilets and other means. Transportation to and from the
Villages should be restricted to electrically- powered public transportation
vehicles, bicycling and walking.*
The establishment of Olympic and Media Villages that foster
sustainability in these ways can become a permanent aspect of the Olympic Games.
Their future use by the communities where Games take place will be a testament
to the primacy of ecological values.
*(For further possibilities see “The
Bioregional Approach for Making Sustainable Cities”.)
Roads and Transport
There are three ways that transportation can be modified
and improved to benefit bioregional sustainability. First, eliminate the
need for new roads and undertake ecological snow removal including
decontamination of water runoff from roads and parking areas. Second, restrict
motor transportation to public conveyances such as vans and buses, and only use
vehicles that employ renewable energy. Third, eliminate the need for
motor-driven conveyances whenever possible.
Existing roads should be sufficient to handle even a five-
fold increase in the number of people if the conveyances used are solely buses
and vans with scheduled arrival and departure times, and private vehicles are
prohibited from access to sports venues. (New roads should be discouraged
because of the massive upheavals they cause to natural systems and
socio-economic stability.) The Games will require a greater amount of highway
snow removal and thereby increase runoff that is already a source of water
pollution in the local watershed and throughout the bioregion. (In Nagano, Japan
the amount of highway snow-clearing chemicals used was five times higher than
normal and caused still-lingering damage to nearby rice fields.) Chemicals used
to melt snow remain in dangerously high concentrations when they flow through
roadside channels to soils, underground aquifers, small streams and surrounding
fields, rivers, and eventually the Adriatic Sea. Non-chemical, ecologically
benign solutions for removing snow and ice should be found and employed. This
will not only reduce ecological impacts of the Games but provide an important
educational benefit for outdoor events in the future. Roadside channels should
be equipped with chemical monitoring and filtration devices. In addition, road
clearing should be undertaken only when necessary, and not mandated to occur
twenty-four hours a day in every kind of weather as during the Nagano Olympics.
It will be possible to restrict Olympics transportation to
only public conveyances using renewable energy if arrangements for this
transformation are undertaken beginning in 2003. Decisions about the types of
energy employed, the design and number of vehicles, and production arrangements
will require all of the advance time possible. There are generous incentives
that can be offered for doing this including subsidization from local and
federal governments, reducing costs through local manufacture, elimination of
fossil fuel and most maintenance costs, and use by the community for a decade
after the Games are over. It is a completely desirable and feasible plan,
especially for Turin where motor trends originate. This is an opportunity to
make Turin automotive manufacturers known as a center for renewable energy
The need for motor-powered conveyances of any kind can be
greatly reduced through planning sports events at venues closest to Olympic and
Media Villages. Weather and road conditions permitting, free “white bikes”
can be made available to use in getting from public transportation points to
sites and for other uses. Bicycles can be encouraged by creating more one-way
streets, designating more bicycle lanes, offering bicycle valet and secure
parking services, and discounts at events for bicycle riders and walkers. These
benefits will also encourage three-wheel “truck” bikes can be used to carry
materials and products to event sites. Use of bicycles and walking, which
combine both environmental and athletic aims need to become a permanent
highlight of the Games.
Guard Fox Watch (GFW) is an international NGO to monitor
and make recommendations about bioregional impacts of the Winter Olympic Games.
Since 1996 it has developed reports, recommendations and accounts about the 1998
Nagano and 2002 Salt Lake City Games. GFW visited Turin, Italy in January 2003
for similar purposes regarding the 2006 Winter Games and was hosted by TOROC’s
Environmental Committee to discuss preparations and visit sports venues.
The 2006 Winter Olympic Games will take place in the
western headwaters part of the Po River Basin Bioregion, The main natural
feature is an arc of Alps Mountains, foothills and valleys that are the initial
source of the Po, and the river itself entering and leaving Turin. The whole Po
River Basin Bioregion includes the Po Valley until the river empties into the
Adriatic Sea. There is a great range of habitats and pronounced seasonal
changes. The land is geologically unstable and mostly downward sloping. Water
resources are abundant and the speed of the flowing water is generally fast.
Ecosystems are diverse but usually sparsely distributed because of the steep
land surfaces and thin soils. Human inhabitation was previously adapted to
bioregional features, but recent development and population increases in both
urban and rural areas have caused serious ecological problems. Environmental
disruptions have a greater effect here than in flatter areas because
life-supports are not as strong. Thin soils inhibit resiliency for ecosystems,
sloping land and fast water create floods and wash away nutrients, and
pollutants are more concentrated. There should be a bioregionally sensitive
approach to staging the 2006 Winter Olympic Games to prevent further ecological
damage and contribute to future sustainability for both humans and natural
systems. TOROC’s present direction is not sufficient to help restore and
maintain the life of the bioregion and needs to be expanded in relation to
guidelines from Bollettino Ufficiale Regione Piemonte, “Atti Della Regione –
Atti Dello Stato”,18 Aprile 2001.
Territory and Landscape
Immediate preparations for complete environmental
monitoring of air quality, water availability and pollution, garbage, sewage,
native plant and animal populations, natural habitat and ecosystems, energy
production and use, soil removal and disruption, and other relevant factors.
Measurements of baseline conditions during the same seasonal period of the Games
need to be taken starting no later than January 2004 in order to obtain
effective results. They should be taken regularly at the same period in 2005,
2006, and for several years after the Winter Games.
Establish guidelines for development and increased human
loads. All aspects of development, construction, and ongoing operations
associated with the Games need to be undertaken without interference to
landforms, waterways, ecosystems, habitats, soils, or other natural elements.
Preparations need to be made to measure levels of use for water, energy,
garbage, sewage, transportation, food supplies, and other necessities.
Development guidelines and human load measurements need to be in place by
January 2004. Modifications to reduce and eliminate impacts should be made
continually through 2006.
Ecological restoration after the Games should embody
bioregional values. Damage to native species, ecosystems, habitats, waterways,
soil, and landscapes should be restored to model conditions of wildness.
Watercourses, soils and landforms must be returned to their natural state, and
only local native species should be used in rebuilding ecosystems.
Develop energy self-reliance through conservation and
creation of renewable sources. Present energy supplies are highly inadequate for
probable five hundred percent increase in human loads during Olympics, and
extending existing non-sustainable systems is environmentally destructive.
A comprehensive plan for energy reduction through
conservation and donation from already existing users.
Total renewable energy production and use at Olympics
facilities and sports venues by 2006. Government conservation and renewable
energy development programs for all users should be started in 2004 to be fully
operational by 2006..
Sustainable refuse programs to reduce and eliminate the
production of garbage and recycle all discarded materials. A Zero Waste Policy
should be pursued at all Olympic facilities and venues, and businesses such as
restaurants, hotels, and shops with increased human loads owing to the Games.
Policies for these aspects of Olympics activity should be in place by 2004.
Municipal plans need to follow a program for reduction and recycling throughout
the bioregion by 2006.
Watersheds should be the basic planning units for creating
sustainability within human and natural communities in the headwaters of the Po
River Basin Bioregion.
Water catchment systems to collect rain and snowmelt should
be immediately installed at places such as Village facilities, sports venues,
hotels, and restaurants that will experience heavy water use because of the
Olympics. Where possible, all water users ranging from factories to homes can be
Water conservation needs to be thorough and enforced. This
is especially urgent for Olympic Villages and sports venues, but all water users
need to be included through civic programs.
Reuse of water through dual plumbing systems, one for pure
water and one for lightly used water, should be installed in Olympic Villages
and sports venues. Hotels and restaurants should also be required to have reuse
systems, and all water users can be scheduled for programs to transform their
plumbing systems by 2006.
No new dams or basins to store water need to be built if
the above measures are carried out.
Cable Lift Facilities
Complete natural environment inventories in a wide area
around destination and stanchion construction sites are necessary in order to
properly restore landforms, watercourses, soil, ecosystems, and native plant and
Minimum space, no landscaping, and no paving should be
followed in constructing lift facilities.
Noise and night lighting completely eliminated or kept to
Transportation to lifts restricted to public conveyances
Lift facilities removed after Olympics.
Plant and animal restoration using only local native
Monitoring of success for three-month periods over several
Olympic and Media Villages
Require model sustainable community guidelines for
constructing and operating Villages. Recycled and locally available materials
use in construction. Structural elements featuring built-in water catchment and
heating/cooling capabilities. Self-reliant heat and electricity generating
facilities and conservation devices. Full-scale recycling. Water re-use. Locally
produced organic food. Biological sewage treatment. Transportation restricted to
renewable energy powered public transportation, bicycles, and walking. Starting
immediately and operational by January 2006.
Public information about all aspects of sustainability to
take advantage of this unique educational opportunity. Leave complete facilities
for future community demonstration and use.
Roads and Transport
Restrict Olympic-related transportation during Games to
public conveyances using renewable energy, bicycles and walking.
Ecological snow removal and handling of road water runoff
during the Games. Use only environmentally benign snow removal devices and
chemicals. Remove snow only when necessary and don’t mandate twenty- four hour
removal in all types of weather. Channel road and parking area water runoff
through monitoring and decontamination filters.
Eliminate the need for new roads through automobile-free
planning. Place locations of facilities and events close together. Convert
streets to one-way traffic with bicycle lanes. Offer bicycle security services.
Give bicycle riders and walkers discounts at events. Make free “white bikes”
available and encourage use of three-wheel “truck bikes” for carrying loads
and passengers. Start immediately and continue through January 2006.
Prepared by Guard Fox Watch Monitoring Committee
Director, Planet Drum Foundation (USA)
Field researcher, coordinator and principal author
David Criley (USA)
Information researcher and contributor
Planet Drum Foundation (USA)
Field researcher and consultant
Planet Drum Foundation (USA)
Consultant and contributor
Founder, Rete Bioregionale Italiana (Italy)
Field researcher, translator and contributor
Founder, Deep Ecology Resource Center (Japan)
Field researcher, reviewer and contributor