The Alpine territory should remain permeable and liveable for all species – therefore cross border cooperation for ecological connectivity within the Alpine arc and beyond is a main topic of the Alpine Convention.
Nature areas do not know any borders. But planning does. Enhancing transboundary cooperation on ecological connectivity of protected areas and other conservation areas within the Alpine perimeter is already an ongoing topic and a lot of work has been done to improve the cross border cooperation within the Alpine area until today. In the sense of climate change the need for a proper management of existing areas and the establishment of new areas to cover species, habitats and ecological processes that would no longer be included due to the shifts caused by climate change is even greater. The pathway draws possible steps to be done – also by integrating the spatial planning sector. This implementation path takes SDG 15 and 17 from the Agenda 2030 of all UN member states into account in particular.
A comprehensive stock taking of protected areas and other conservation areas as well as definitions of those areas are the first step on the way of enhancing transboundary cooperation on ecological connectivity of protected areas. For instance the following questions could guide this step: Which types of protected area and other conservation areas exist within the Alpine area? How much do they differ within the Alpine states? What does “protected” and “conservation” mean in the different areas? What about transboundary protected areas? What is the state of ecological connectivity?
Regular meetings of managers of protected areas should be enlarged by stakeholders for protected areas without an existing management in the Alpine regions. The meetings are already organized by important stakeholder of the Alpine area (ALPARC, former ECONET group of the Alpine Convention) and aim at facilitating the exchange and cooperation of managers and also provide a stage for presenting good practices and lessons learned in the context of transboundary cooperation.
Those regular meetings should also draw their attention to adaptation and mitigation aspects of protected areas which should be mainstreamed in all management plans of existing and new protected areas in the Alps (see Step 2b).
Existing protected areas should be further strengthened, including by establishing management plans that apply nature-based solutions, and new ones, for example UNESCO biosphere reserves, are designated to cover species, habitats and ecological processes that would no longer be included due to the shifts caused by climate change. For this, work done within Step 2a is a precondition.
Spatial planning is a discipline which can better integrate the issue of connectivity in the planning processes. At this stage findings of the stock taking report about spatial planning in the Alpine states by Econet shall be taken into account (starting point). Spatial planners shall be integrated in a process of defining recommendations for spatial planning instruments at a very early stage.
Definition and stock taking of protected areas and other conservation areas in the Alps built upon existing work of e.g., ALPARC
Stakeholder network (protected areas and other conservation areas) and regular meetings
Connectivity between protected areas and beyond is maintained and further developed, in order to increase ecosystems resilience and to enable favourable conditions for Alpine species, habitats, ecological processes and process protection
Management plans that contain mitigation and adaptation aspects
Work done by the Platform Ecological network of the AC: e.g., Statement on the “Role of Ecological Connectivity for Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts in the Alps” (Stock taking No. 4 ); stock taking report about spatial planning in the Alpine states
Alpine ecological connectivity for the next generations – Alpine Nature 2030 and AlpBioNet project by ALPARC (Stock taking No. 60)
GreenRisk4ALPs – Development of ecosystem-based risk governance concepts with respect to natural hazards and climate impacts – from ecosystem-based solutions to integrated risk assessment (Stock taking No. 83)
Current ALPARC projects (PLACE study; final version in summer 2020)
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 face impacts from climate change, changes in agricultural use, urbanisation and infrastructure development. All these require specific actions including restoration of specific natural and cultural elements, biotopes and ecosystems. 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. As climate change leads to shifts of species, habitats and ecological processes, especially the ecological connectivity of protected areas and other conservation areas play a crucial role for securing ecosystem services in the Alps.
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