Original paper

Slope transformations within tourist footpaths in the northern and southern parts of the Western Tatra Mountains (Poland, Slovakia)

Fidelus, Joanna


Footpaths and tourist roads are some of the main zones of direct human impact in protected areas. Nowadays, slopes within tourist footpaths and roads are areas where significant relief transformations are taking place. The aim of the study was to determine the impact of tourism on the morphogenetic processes on the north and south slopes in different geoecological belts in the Polish and Slovakian parts of the Western Tatra Mountains. Geomorphological mapping was used to determine the effects of morphogenetic processes within the tourist footpaths and roads. The differences in basic morphometric parameters between footpaths and tourist roads were identified using principal component analysis (PCA) and Ward's method for cluster analysis. In order to determine and compare the effects of processes, such as runoff, ice needle action, nivation, and deflation, a number of test surfaces were established. The test surfaces were located on slopes within the tourist footpaths and on slopes in areas without human impact. Comparison photographs of the test surfaces were taken from one fixed point in different morphogenetic seasons over 6 years. The footpaths on the northern slopes are most intensively transformed during the spring thaw. This is due to the large activity of nivation at that time. Moreover, the soil on these northern slopes is more saturated with meltwater than those on the southern slopes. These conditions cause the North slopes to be particularly vulnerable to erosion caused by human impact. The southern slopes are most vulnerable to relief transformations caused by human impact during the autumn period, when intensive ice needle action takes place. The most significant differences between footpaths and areas without anthropogenic impact can primarily be observed in the size of the loose rock material being displaced as well as the range of various morphogenetic processes.


mountain areasmorphogenetic processesrelief transformationstourist footpaths