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How much protection for protected areas?

(c) Stefan Witty, CIPRA Deutschland

The Alps are a bastion of biodiversity, a function that will become even more important in the future as rising temperatures endanger the survival of many species at lower altitudes.

What is – literally – more concrete and more immediately apparent than climate change are the consequences of the growing demands placed on natural resources, with the last near-natural waterways threatened by plans for new hydropower schemes and land use increasing for the construction of homes, commercial and industrial buildings and roads. It was against this background that in 2013 CIPRA Germany presented a position paper on the energy transition that attracted considerable attention throughout the Alps.

The preservation of biodiversity presupposes a habitat network of an adequate size. Even then, experience shows that protected areas are not immune from new land-use demands and a subsequent relaxation of rules. In this context CIPRA Germany, in collaboration with CIPRA International, submitted the case of a specific protected area – the Egartenlandschaft nature conservation area in the district of Miesbach – to the Alpine Convention’s Compliance Committee. This was because the original regulatory notice had been changed twenty times, most recently for a beer filling plant, a livestock auction hall, a hotel complex complete with golf course, and another 85-hectare golf course.

And yet the Alpine Convention's Nature Conservation Protocol specifies that protected areas are to be managed in such a way that the defined level of protection is maintained and that they must be extended for that purpose where necessary, while any impairment of or damage to protected areas is to be avoided. The question that CIPRA Germany is putting to politicians at a federal, regional and district level is how the animals, plants and biodiversity of the Alps are to be safeguarded without a well-managed network of protected areas.

www.cipra.de (de)

Source: Annual Report 2014, CIPRA International, http://www.cipra.org/annual-reports