The Alps are a relatively young mountain range characterized by its variety of natural spaces, climates, geographies and ecosystems. It is home to a rich biodiversity which depends on the Alpine habitats, such as woodlands, prairies and watercourses, for survival. However, animals face many obstacles due to human activities like road infrastructures or intensely used agricultural land. Humanmade infrastructure fragments landscapes and destroys habitats, making the resources on which animals depend inaccessible. Additionally, populations become isolated as migration patterns are disrupted. Climate change is exacerbating this situation, putting many Alpine species at risk of extinction.
Alpine Protected Areas play a vital role in biodiversity protection. They are often the last refuge for many plants and animal species. Connecting protected areas preserves biodiversity on the long term by allowing for undisturbed natural processes to take place.
Ecological connectivity is needed on land, under water and in the air to safeguard biodiversity for future generations. It is the cornerstone for nature conservation and presents itself as a potential answer to biodiversity loss since isolating populations in protected areas is no longer a viable solution.
Alpine countries contribute to global nature conservation
The Convention on Biological Diversity commits the Alpine countries to protecting biodiversity. Since mountains regions are hotspots for biodiversity, ecological networks in the Alpine region help fulfill this global commitment.
Activities aimed at protecting biodiversity and ensuring that ecosystems are functioning smoothly are found in Article 12 of the Nature Protection Protocol of the Alpine Convention:
“Ecological Network: The contracting parties shall pursue the measures appropriate for creating a national and cross-border network of protected areas, biotopes and other environmental assets protected or acknowledged as worthy of protection”
This article laid the groundwork for ALPARC’s activity since 2003, which focused on creating spatial links between protected areas.
Since then, ALPARC has implemented several activities, coordinated project publications and conferences on the topic.