The Alps

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  • Case Study: Fold Mountains- The Alps
    • The Alps lie on the destructive boundary between the African plate and the Eurasian plate.
    • Living on fold mountains can be difficult due to the harsh conditions.
      • Steep slopes
      • Short growing season
      • Avalanches/ rock fall
      • Less land-use oppurtunites on the shaded north-facing slopes
    • Farming in the Alps
      • Most farms are located on the sunny south-facing slope to prolong the growing season
      • Trans-humance farming is used, leaving the fertile valley floor for crops and winter fodder
        • Trans-humance farming is when cattle are taken to graze on the high alp during the summer, instead of on the valley floor
      • Cable cars bring fresh milk to to co-operative dairies on the valley floor, so it does not have to be turned into butter or cheese
      • Additional feedstuffs are available for farmers to buy, so cattle can be kept on the valley floor all year round
    • Forestry in the Alps
      • Many slopes are covered in coniferous trees, so there is a large supply of wood
        • It is the main building material and source of fuel in Alpine lands
      • Timber that cannot be used for construction is turned into pulp and paper
        • Sawmills on the valley floor use nearby rivers to power the mills
    • Tourism in the Alps
      • The Alps are used for tourism all year round
        • Hikers and walkers come in the summer for the large glacial lakes and mountain scenery
        • In the winter, there is snow for skiing and winter sports
          • Flat land on the high alps is useful for hotels, restaurants and ski-lifts
      • Alpine winters are becoming less snowy, however, and skiiing has damaged slope vegetation
        • This has increased the risk of soil erosion
    • Hydro-electric power in the Alps
      • Fast-flowing rivers are produced by the steep slopes, high precipitation levels, and summer melting of the glaciers in the Alps
        • Narrow valleys are also easy to dam and there are lakes in which to store water
      • Some of the cheap HEP produced is used by sawmills and other industries, and some is exported to other regions
    • Because the Alps are situated in MEDCs, there is money for the technology and develpoments needed to overcome high mountain transport issues


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