ECOSYSTEMS & BIODIVERSITY
ECOSYSTEMS & BIODIVERSITY
Protection and management of vulnerable and Alpine specific landscapes and ecosystems
The Alpine landscapes are a global hotspot of biodiversity. Scientists estimate that more than 30,000 animal and 13,000 plant species are native to the Alps. The diversity of habitats and species is the result of the most varied, often very small-scale climatic and geological conditions, the different altitudinal levels as well as the different use as a basic for high quality food production. The outcome are various different landscape types with a high biodiversity level but also with a high range of sensitivity.
Peatlands, raised bogs, wetlands, dry meadows, glaciers, rivers, high mountain regions, forests, traditional cultural landscapes as e.g., orchard meadows etc. – the Alpine area offers a wide range of specific natural and cultural landscapes with a great importance for (endangered) species of the flora and fauna. They are subject to different impacts, climate change, abandonment of agricultural use or intensification, urbanisation, infrastructure, which make them vulnerable and demands specific actions including restoration of specific natural and cultural elements, biotopes, ecosystems etc. At the same time Alpine specific landscape and ecosystems – like pasture areas – and their sustainable management ensure the maintenance, resilience and promotion of biodiversity and thus the provision and restoration of important ecosystems and services. The protection and wise management of vulnerable and Alpine specific landscape and ecosystems are crucial tasks.
This implementation pathway is framed by existing regulations of the European Union as well as by the UNESCO Man and Biosphere programme. At the same time it takes into account the SDGs of the agenda 2030 (especially 2 – Zero Hunger and 15 – Life on Land), the AC Protocol on nature conservation and European Landscape Convention (ratified by Contracting Parties of the Alpine Convention (CH, FR, IT, SI).
Sequence of implementation steps:
Step 1a: Typology, data collection and analysis on vulnerable landscapes in the Alpine area (2021-2022)
As a first step (and built upon Work of EUSALP AG7 and projects mentioned as starting points), a typology, data collection and analysis on vulnerable ecosystems in the Alpine area (peatlands/raised bogs/wetlands/dry meadows/glaciers/rivers/high mountain regions/forests/traditional cultural landscapes as e.g., orchard meadows etc.) including upland-lowland interlinkages will be undertaken. This collection should be done in a cooperative way, including experts of all member states of the Alpine area and especially the Alpine Biodiversity Board. For instance the Natura2000 definitions of habitat types and species to be protected and promoted can serve as impulse for this typology, collection and analysis.
A stock taking of Alpine specific landscape, ecosystems and ecosystem services (more information provided within the project AlpES https://www.alpine-space.eu/projects/alpes/en/wikialps) will give an overview and is linked to the data collection of vulnerable landscapes (step 1a).
Alpine specific landscape and ecosystem management, including the maintenance and restoration of pasture areas and the limitation of scrub encroachment, safeguards high-quality landscapes and ensures the maintenance and resilience of ecosystems and the provision of services.
Step 1c: Overview and analysis of nature reserves and wilderness areas (IUCN categories Ia and Ib) and potential areas (2021-2022)
Nature reserves and wilderness areas, areas with a specific size and clear rules for (non-)management, have a great importance and potential for nature conservation and process protection within the Alpine region. An overview (see as a starting point the results of Econet and AlpBioNet https://www.jecami.eu/viewer/saca/ and the analysis) of those existing areas in the Alpine states shall be input for an assessment of their role in preserving the vulnerable landscapes. The analysis of the potential new areas will be provided and should raise awareness towards the spatial dimension.
A list of invasive alien species in the Alpine area will be provided. This data will be compiled at national level and will be communicated and shared across borders. The distribution of neobiota species in the Alpine countries will be provided in a map. Also information about landscapes that are more exposed to invasive species could be included in this map.
For this purpose, existing online maps should be used for the further development of the Alpine-wide overview of invasive species.
Step 2: Collection of management and preservation recommendations for Alpine specific landscapes (2022-2023)
The recommendations aim to address the four mentioned topics:
- The catalogue of landscape in the Alpine area is supplemented by (none) planning, management (process protection) and preservation recommendations, also with a view to strengthen resilience of ecosystems.
- The crucial benefits provided by Alpine ecosystems for an improved adaptive capacity to climate change are taken into account when describing recommendations for management, restoration and preservation. They will be integrated in plans about climate change at various scales.
- The overview and analysis of nature reserves and wilderness areas (IUCN categories Ia and Ib) and potential areas leads to specific recommendation for the (non-)management of those areas.
The prevention of the new introduction of invasive alien species, early detection and an effective management and control of existing invasive alien species are the core parts of recommendations for the management of these species.
The implementation of EU Regulation II43 / 2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species as well as a rigorous and concrete implementation of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme, the EU Habitat and Birds Directive, strategies and reports under the CBD will be monitored for the Alpine area.
- Biologists and landscape planners
- NGOs dealing with nature protection, landscape planning and protection
- Stakeholders with specific knowledge of Alpine landscape management
- Typology, collection of data and a comprehensive stock taking for vulnerable landscapes, Alpine specific landscapes and ecosystems as well as wilderness areas and distribution and occurrence of invasive alien species
- Recommendations for planning, protection, restoration and management of vulnerable and Alpine specific landscapes, applying ecosystem based approaches
- Recommendations/concepts for the handling of invasive species (neobiota)
- Publication of data and information resulting from steps 1a-1d Specific common typology of Alpine landscapes are integrated in spatial planning instruments
- List of recommendations for all topics mentioned in steps 1a-1d
- Upgraded protection status of critical habitats
- Monitoring system to screen the implementation of existing regulations has been installed
- Work done by the Platform Ecological network of the AC (Econet)
- Landscape typology implemented by the Contracting Parties
- Landscape policies in Contracting Parties (adopted formally, in preparation or as a system of legally defined and connected steps/tasks in spatial planning, nature conservation, agriculture land management, rural development etc.)
- Work done by the Alpine Biodiversity Board (ABB) of the Alpine Convention: Analysis of strategies, guidelines and political recommendations on biodiversity and landscape (new in preparation
- Work of ALPARC (map of all protected areas >100ha for the Alpine area
- Data of projects like Impuls4Action, AlpES, AlpBioNet and currently running projects such as Impuls4Action, LUIGI, ALPTREES, OpenSpaceAlps
- Work of EUSALP AG7 concerning important habitats/ecosystems to be considered for green infrastructure implementation