Ecological networks can only be successfully implemented if people from the nature protection sector work with other related sectors. With a view towards the upcoming new funding period of the Alpine Space Programme, participants of a greenAlps workshop, organized by the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (Vetmeduni Vienna) on 3 June 2014 in Salzburg, talked about possibilities of cooperation among sectorial stakeholders. Workshop participants from diverse sectors, including organic agriculture, forestry, spatial planning, and nature conservation in the province of Salzburg, as well as representatives of the Alpine Space projects greenAlps and Alpine Space In Movement (AIM) discussed the multiple challenges of landscape protection in Salzburg and other Alpine regions.
Ecological connectivity and the involvement of key partners
Ecological connectivity is a central concern for biodiversity conservation. The concepts behind it are, however, primarily understood by people working on nature protection. There is a lot of catching up to do to implement already existing action recommendations at the field level. This requires the involvement of relevant local stakeholders from a broad range of sectors. Implementation of results (“capitalisation”) is also a major issue for the Alpine Space Programme. The realities of ecological spatial planning are rather difficult. Participants felt that political will is often lacking, and that more concrete goals and – consequently – laws and regulations have to be developed. Private actors are also key partners, but have so far not been sufficiently involved in nature protection actions under the Alpine Space Programme.
Valuation approach: raising public awareness
It is also necessary to enhance public recognition of the real costs of natural resource use, and, on the other hand, the contribution ecosystems make to society (for example through ecosystem services valuation approaches).
Tourism is a matter of concern for nature protection, probably because of a lack of understanding among tourism enterprises of the importance of protecting the very resources tourism draws on – such as landscape beauty, wildlife viewing opportunities, clean water, etc. Many of these natural resources are considered “free”, and the tourism sector is perceived as important, but difficult to involve in nature protection activities.
The function of organic farming
Organic farming has an important complementary function in protecting areas for ecological connectivity and preserving biodiversity. There is, however, a growing demand for agricultural production, and farmers sometimes have concerns over obligatory land use restrictions. Involvement of farmer associations in the Alpine Space programme could facilitate adequate communication, in particular about potential synergies between the objectives of a “liveable Alpine Space” and those of the ecological components of the Common Agricultural Policy, which already offers financial returns in exchange for ecological farming methods.
The workshop documentation is available here:
Alpine Space Programme 2014+ – Status of the programming process (en), Martina Bach, Austrian National Contact Point
Aktivitäten von BioAustria im Bereich Natur und
Biodiversitätsschutz (de), Rudi Vierbauch, Bio Austria