Neophytes in the Valais Alps

Neophytes are alien plant species that were introduced after 1500 and have become established in the wild. These include popular garden plants such as the vinegar tree, the summer lilac or the cherry laurel. Invasive species spread so rapidly that they displace other native species that are characteristic of the habitat in question, which can lead to a decline in biodiversity.

Invasive neophytes prefer to colonize freshly created embankments, soil deposits and other raw soils. Railroad lines and embankments are also affected areas. Highly proliferating species can therefore impair infrastructure and lead to high maintenance costs.

Ecosens is supporting Transports de Martigny et Régions SA (TMR) in combating neophytes on the Mont Blanc Express and St. Bernard Express rail networks. The occurrences are identified and georeferenced during a survey of the two railroad lines (~ 45 km). The data can be managed in a future cadastre. Ecosens is drawing up a customized action plan to show how the neophytes can be combated as part of maintenance work and is training TMR employees on the procedure and professional handling of neophytes.

About the people:
Daniel Sabathy
Head of Department Environmental Planning
Dipl. natw. ETH (Biology)

Thiago Biolley
Project manager for building pollutants
BSc Environmental and Earth Sciences, University of Geneva