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Reliable partnerships right across the Alps

Jun 21, 2017
CIPRA Austria, CIPRA Germany, CIPRA South Tyrol. Right now the cable car industry is all about superlatives. Indeed, the “world’s greatest glacier ski area” is to be created by linking up the ski resorts in the Austrian Pitztal and Ötztal valleys.
Image caption:
With a unified voice: CIPRA representatives at the press conference. (c) Josef Essl

Lech-St. Anton boasts “Austria’s largest ski area” and, following the link-up with Arosa, the Lenzerheide has become the “largest contiguous ski area” in Graubünden, Switzerland. In Bavaria/D, Tyrol/A and South Tyrol/I alone there are now 31 cable car projects waiting to be implemented. It’s an Alpine-wide predatory competition that’s driving investments ever upwards. The instant one ski region expands its area, other winter resorts feel compelled to make the next move. They too want to expand so they can keep up with the competition from abroad.

And so the battle waged by individual organisations against these serried ranks of development plans that are all similar in argumentation, methodology and demands throughout the Alpine states becomes all the tougher. That’s why partnerships and networks such as CIPRA are urgently needed. The three CIPRAs of Austria, South Tyrol and Germany have joined forces to form a crossborder north-south axis. Their brief: to make the general public and the body politic aware of the unbridled exploitation of the Alps and, also, make it clear that international regulations are needed when it comes to answering questions relating to the development of ski areas and spatial planning.

In Germany these exploitation pressures never used to exist. Within the national planning framework, the Bavarian Alpine Plan is a prime example of Alpine spatial planning, with 43% of the total surface area earmarked for “quiet recreation”. No pistes or lift installations are to be built there. But now, at the Riedberger Horn in the Allgäu region, policymakers are calling this regulation into question and seeking to exclude areas from the protected Zone C of the Alpine Plan so that a cable car link can be built. As a result a planning instrument that has been tried and tested and unchanged for 44 years is now being called into question. The international set of agreements of the Alpine Convention forms the overarching framework for the implementation of Alpine-wide solutions. What is needed is a spatial planning architecture that is valid across the Alps and modelled on examples of good practice such as the Bavarian Alpine Plan. The appointment of a working group on “Alpine open-space planning/Alpine spatial planning” within the Alpine Convention would be a first step. Its remit would be to draw up proposals valid across the Alps to halt the ever spiralling plans to expand the growth of tourism.

Joint campaigns by CIPRA Austria, Germany and South Tyrol such as press conferences in Munich/D and Innsbruck/A, the call for an Alpine-wide debate on spiralling growth plans for cable car construction, and the demand for a serious application of the implementing protocols of the Alpine Convention have resulted in a sustained media response across the Alps. The three national CIPRAs also see themselves as a mouthpiece for civil society as a whole when it comes to highlighting problems and challenges and addressing solutions. “Working towards a form of eco-tourism where offers are tailored to the natural and cultural assets of the Alpine region rather than impacting them would be a sustainable solution for nature and people alike,” says Peter Hasslacher, President of CIPRA Austria. Together with representatives in Germany and South Tyrol they will further strengthen that co-operation and act with a strong voice on behalf of the comprehensive protection and sustainable development of the Alps. (en)