Geographica Helvetica (Oct 2021)

Assessing the ecological value of dynamic mountain geomorphosites

  • J. Bussard,
  • E. Giaccone

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 76
pp. 385 – 399


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Geoheritage is a component of geodiversity constituted by all the elements of geodiversity recognized by society for their particular values. The definition of these values, including the importance of geoheritage for biodiversity, plays a key role in the process of heritage recognition and geoconservation policymaking. In mountain environments, dynamic geomorphosites have a strong influence on plant diversity because the active geomorphological processes responsible for their formation act as renovators for habitats of pioneer species. In this paper, we propose criteria to assess the ecological value of dynamic mountain geomorphosites. We show that the interest of plant communities (species richness and presence of rare or protected species) and the influence of geomorphological processes on plant communities (disturbances, surface movement and soil) are fundamental criteria for assessing the ecological value in an exhaustive and objective way and that the question of the scale (local and national scales) is also a crucial parameter. We then illustrate this methodological proposal by evaluating the ecological value of three dynamic geomorphosites and a talus slope in the western Swiss Alps.