A new mountain range in the Italian Alps has been declared a “trivial, but irreversible” ecological disaster, with scientists saying it will destroy more than 300,000 hectares of forest in the region.
In a report, the Centre for the Conservation of Nature (CCCN) said that the new range in northern Italy’s Quilak, known as the largest mountain-range in the world, will cause the loss of more than half of its forest area.
The area is located between the Italian city of Vialandini and the Italian capital, Rome, on the borders of the Italian-Swiss border.
Its impact is expected to be even more severe than that of the Cinque Terre mountain range that is already under threat, the CCCN said.
The report said the new mountain was “one of the most important ecological and human-driven changes to the landscape in decades” because of the lack of habitat and protection.
“With the disappearance of this mountain, the most significant ecological and social losses will be felt by all of Europe, from the Italian peninsula to France,” the report said.
“This will be the first time that the landscape has been altered to such a degree that it is irreversible,” said the report, titled “The Last Mountain Range in Italy.”
The CCCM said it was not possible to predict exactly how the new mountains might affect the Italian economy, but that the loss could have an immediate impact.
“The loss of the Quilaks mountain range will be a significant economic and social impact for the region,” the CCCCN said, adding that it was unclear how much it could recover from the loss.
The Quilakes mountains were created around 14,000 years ago when a giant, ice-cap-shaped iceberg slammed into the landmass.
They have since been covered in a layer of glaciers, but they remain a unique feature in Italy.
It was first recognised in the 1950s, but the impact of climate change has seen the landscape change over the last 30 years.
The glaciers have been retreating at an alarming rate in recent years, but experts believe this could soon begin to reverse as the climate warms.
The CCCCM said that although the Quils are the largest mountains in Italy, it was possible that they would become extinct within the next 50 years.
“Our assessment of the impacts of climate warming on Quilaked mountains is very uncertain,” it said.
“The loss will be gradual and will be offset by other losses in other areas.”