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From April 3rd to 4th 2019, ten key Alpine organizations put together AlpWeek Intermezzo, an international event on sustainable development and related Alpine issues. This event was a shorter version of AlpWeek, which is held every four years. Over a period of two days, a total of 60 invited guests from all over the Alps (e.g. Youth Parliament of the Alpine Convention, mayors from Alpine cities and scientists) came together in Innsbruck, Austria to answer the question ‘what is your most relevant concern for the Alps tomorrow’? 

In total, three main topics were presented during the conference: land use, mobility and climate change. Each topic was introduced by a guest speaker and was then opened up to debate. The results of each debate session were presented (as recommendations for future action) to the Alpine Convention during the XV Alpine Conference, which occurred in parallel with the event. AlpWeek Intermezzo also featured presentations on 10 projects addressing Alpine issues. 

The final conference report is now available and presents crucial information from the topic sessions and project presentations.

Key information from the topic sessions:  

Land use: Participants called for limits to land use for tourism infrastructure and heavy and individual traffic as well as putting in place tourist quotas in some areas.

Climate change: Action is needed on all levels to address climate change. Greenhouse gases need to be immediately reduced and the proper funding and support should be given to local administrations and regional climate coordinators to facilitate pan-Alpine initiatives on this issue. 

Mobility: There is a need for efficient and intelligent means of transportation in the Alpine region that reduce the burden on inhabitants and maintain prosperity without further expanding road networks. 

Highlights from project presentations: 

Green economy in the Alpine region: The Alpine Convention published its Green Economy Action Programme (GEAP) in April which identifies concrete areas for action to make the transition to a green economy by 2030. It is a stakeholder-driven program which builds off existing achievements and works towards creating a transnational, common approach for the region. 

ALPACA: Alpine Partnership for Local Climate Action: This project believes that municipalities and local authorities play a key role in climate change adaptation and mitigation and aims to address the major challenges they face when addressing climate change.

The UrbaBio project: Urban areas are important niches for biodiversity. This project integrates knowledge from the Alpine cities of Annecy, Belluno, Chambéry and Trento to development innovative solutions for nature conservation. 

The complete conference report can be found here. 

Published in News from the Alps

Species living in mountainous areas depend on unique climate conditions, which vary with elevation, for survival. Climate change is modifying these areas and has already resulted in temperature increases, changes in precipitation patterns and more extreme climatic events such as droughts and heat waves. These changes are already having noticeable effects on Alpine fauna and flora and many international studies approach the question of how affected species are managing to adapt to climate change. 

According to a study published in July 2019 in Nature Research, most common species, such as birds and deer, are unable to acclimatize to the speed of the climate change crisis. The report looked at 71 studies across 13 countries to access whether species’ phenological changes or adaptive responses were adequate to deal with climate change. Out of the species studied, almost all species were unable to handle the changes. 

Species rely on the timing of biological events to adapt their behavior to new environmental conditions. However, this is becoming a challenge as seasonal shifts are accelerating due to human activities. In the Alps, the early arrival of spring and summer is causing ecosystems to be out of sync, impacting animal reproduction and survival. For example, peak vegetation is happening before Alpine Ibex have their kids in Autumn, resulting in a higher mortality rate for their young. Climate change is also affecting migration patterns, as many species are forced to move upward an average of 100m to deal with rising temperatures. This dangerous lag between the natural world's ability to adapt is even greater for species that are already threatened by extinction. 

 “The fact that species struggle to adapt to the current rate of climate change means we have to take action immediately in order to at least halt or decrease the rate”Viktoriia Radchuk

Human-induced climate changes has already caused irreversible damage to biodiversity. Without drastic cuts in CO2 emissions and habitat restoration, climate change could change the world as we know it. 

More info: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/23/animals-failing-to-adapt-to-speed-of-climate-crisis-study-finds 

Climate change impacts on the Alps: https://creamontblanc.org/en/climate-change-and-its-impacts-alps 

Published in International news

This was the emblematic title of the French Nature Reserves’ 38th Congress that was entirely dedicated to a new way of managing protected areas in order to adapt to climate change.
When it comes to climate change the Alps are particularly effected. The French Nature Reserve (RNF) Congress, that took place in Le-Mônetier-les-Bains/Serre-Chevalier (France), carried out an extensive program over four days (from June 4th - 8th, 2019), starting with the official launch of the European project Pitem Biodivalp and concluding with on-site visits to surrounding protected areas.
The Congress had a technical approach with the general objective of raising awareness and inciting participants to take on the issues of climate change and its effects through managing protected areas in an innovative and climate resilient way.


During the Congress, the General Assembly of RNF took place allowing all the network members to discuss internal issues. Moreover, field activities to discover biodiversity in the nearby protected areas along with their climate change adapted management were organised. All of the outcomes of the conference were presented in a closing plenary opened to all participants.
Alparc took an active role in the session dedicated to exchanges within protected area networks and the RNF. It also attended the thematic session in order to enhance its knowledge on climate change and to gather some useful information on the degree of adaptation that can be implemented in protected areas.


Under the pression of the global phenomenon, protected areas have a fundamental role to play - enhancing nature as a strong measure to adapt to climate change.

 

More information at:  https://congres-reserves-naturelles-de-france.fr/

How to make learning approaches interactive and at the same time, effectively implement the principles of Mountain-oriented Education in school activities? These problems, including the active involvement of students in field actions, were faced during the development of the Alpine School Model - one of the main outputs of the YOUrALPS project. Under this project, the Alpine school App was developed, a practical pedagogical tool supporting the theoretical approach of the Alpine School Model.

 

The App

The interactive Alpine school App allows learners and educators to directly observe nature all along its life cycle. The user can describe and upload Mountain-oriented educational activities carried out all over the Alps as well. The App can be used as the perfect complement to in-class lessons in order to explore the issues related to Alpine sustainable development. It also favors exchanges among all the users, who can share their experiences and observations.


How does it work?
The App is ready-to-use. Its main function is ‘add spot’, making it possible to choose between three pillars: Observation of the Environment, Governance and Socio-Economic.
The first category consists of the phenological observation1 of fauna, flora and weather. It allows the user not only to upload pictures and descriptions of plants and animals all along their life cycle, but also to collect and share information on the weather such as recording particularly hot days for instance. The final objective is to create a common database with all the observations. This is a powerful tool to understand nature life cycle and to understand the vulnerability of nature and to enhance its protection.
With regard to Governance, this category allows users to share educational activities. It is dedicated to all those activities that deal with the sustainable development of the Alpine region.
Finally, under the Socio-Economic pillar users can record places where it is possible to consume sustainably, from shops to restaurants and local markets.

 

To download and use the App:
IOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/alpine-school-app-spotteron/id1461511006
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spotteron.alpineschoolapp
Computer or laptop: https://www.spotteron.com/alpineschoolapp/

 _______________________________________________________________________

1 Wikipedia definition of phenology: Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate, as well as habitat factors (such as elevation).

 

 

 

Published in News from the Alps
Sunday, 08 September 2019 00:09

International Mountain Conference in Innsbruck

The conference is one of the most comprehensive international meetings on mountain research, with more that 40 workshop topic announcements and keynote speakers from various disciplines and countries. This conference is an opportunity to be a part of a scientific exchange and the creation of new concepts in interdisciplinary mountain science.

More than one hundred people interested in education for sustainable development participated in the international conference “Learning and Networking for sustainable development in the Alps” from May 14th to 15th.  The conference marked the beginning of a new form of education as the Alpine School Model and the international network on mountain-oriented education ‘OurAlps’ were presented for the first time.

 

The Alpine School Model as a tool to empower young people

‘Educate youth in the sense of mountain-oriented education for a sustainable future in the Alps’ - this is the motto of the approach promoted by the Alpine School Model which is based on the basic principles of educating on sustainable development. Moreover, the innovative approach includes outdoor learning, interdisciplinarity methods and aims at integrating non-formal approaches into formal education in order to re-connect youth to their mountain territory.


After a presentation of the approach by several pilot sites, the future of the Model and its integration in formal education curricula was debated during a roundtable involving official representatives from Italy, Austria, France and Slovenia. For example, in Italy the so-called “Reti di scopo”, several local networks made up of schools and other institutions, may manage the certification process of Alpine schools and their partners in the future. Also, in Austria, the Alpine school model will be implemented in the Burgenland region in order to ensure further dissemination and promotion. Promising remarks were expressed by the Minister for Environment and Climate of the Lombardy Region, who hopes that the Alpine school model will support the necessary changes towards a culture of sustainable development.

 

Press Release Mello

OurAlps network: connecting alpine students and educators
The second big conference input involved the presentation of OurAlps, the international network on Mountain-oriented Education in the Alps, which aims to bring together stakeholders from different domains to allow for exchanges to occur on the Alpine level. Its characteristics and future perspectives were discussed together with representatives from different international and national associations such as Alplab, Alpine Town of the Year, Umweltdachverband and the WEEC network. In this context, it also became clear that thinking outside the box and considering the inclusion of periurban areas may be highly important for an Alpine approach to mountain-oriented education.


On the second conference day, three workshops were organised allowing participants to engage in deeper discussions. While the workshop on the Alpine School Model allowed for the public to discover what the Model is about in practice, the workshop on the OurAlps network encouraged the development of future scenarios. Finally, the workshop on Climate Change and Biodiversity gave the participants a possibility to dive into thematical discussions.


For more information on the project YOUrALPS and its outputs:
https://www.alpine-space.eu/projects/youralps/en/home
OurAlps network: https://www.ouralps.org/en
Facebook: YOUrALPS
Twitter: @YOUrALPS

Published in International news

French presidency of the Alpine convention

The XV Alpine Conference in Innsbruck, Austria marked the end of the Austrian presidency of the Alpine Convention. During its 2-and-a-half-year leadership, the Austrian presidency focused on climate change under the theme “protection and utilization” of the Alps. The conference, which took place during the first week of April, highlighted some achievements made over the past few years and the hopes for the future. The presidency was then passed on to France, who will make a thematic shift to air quality, biodiversity and water issues. The following actions will be put in place to address these topics: an ad hoc group alpine convention 2on air quality has been established on June 4-5 in Paris. Concerning water issues, the French presidency will collaborate with the Annecy agglomeration (FR) since the city has expressed its commitment and it will be the site of a conference on this topic in October 2019. Moreover, going off of the June 2018 national biodiversity plan, France will continue to address biodiversity in the Alpine region in addition to hosting the IUCN World Congress on Nature Conservation in June 2020 in Marseille.

 

New Secretary General Appointed

The 6-year mandate of the current Secretary General Markus Reiterer has come to an end. Alenka Smerkol of Slovenia, who has experience in international business and financial management and has served as the minister responsible for development, strategic projects and cohesion for the Slovenian government will be taking over in July 2019. ALPARC wish to thank Secretary General Markus Reiter for the intensive and fruitful cooperation and support during these years and wishes the new Secretary General a fruitful and intense cooperation with the Alpine Network of Protected Areas.

 

Declaration of Innsbruck “Climate-neutral and Climate-resilient Alps 2050”

This declaration reconfirms the Contracting Parties’ commitment to climate change mitigation and adaptation. It highlights the conventions’ role to raise awareness about specific themes relating to climate change. The report was created by the Alpine Climate Board and it lays out specific target actions around 12 sectors to achieve climate neutrality. The declaration also includes the 7th Report on the State of the Alps which focuses on natural hazard risk governance.

 

The Alpine region commits to soil protection and sustainable land use

Commitments on many levels have already been made to protect the soil (e.g. European Soil Charter). However, a commitment was not made by the Alpine region until this year during the XV Alpine Conference when the 2018 EUSALP Action Group 6’s declaration on land use and soil protection was recognized. This showed the Alpine region’s commitment to protect this key natural resource.

 

Results of the Thematic working Bodies of the Alpine convention

Alpine convention newletter 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

From 2016-2019, Thematic Working Bodies have been working to fulfill their mandates approved during the XIV Alpine Convention. Numerous publications were released under these working groups, in areas such as Natural hazards, Water management in the Alps, Sustainable Tourism, and Mountain Forests. These working bodies are the 'thematic core' of the Alpine convention, producing knowledge and information that guide decision making processes within the Convention. The XV Alpine Conference highlighted much of the work done by the Thematic Working Bodies over the past few years.

 

Talking with youth

Representatives invited the delegates of the Youth Parliament to the take part in the conference. For the first time, students from the parliament actively participated in the conference table, expressing the need for urgent action on climate change in order to protect the environment for future generations.

 

AlpWeek Intermezzo

What will the Alps look like tomorrow? What do we want them to look like? These questions were the central theme of the AlpWeek Intermezzo, which took place simultaneously as the XV Alpine Conference. During the first day of the event, guest speakers presented three issues concerning the future of the Alpine region: 1. sustainable protection measures through mapping and limiting land use; 2. the consequences and reactions to climate change; and 3. new forms of transportation to help Alpine populations without further expanding road networks. On the second day of the conference, the past and present situation of the Alps were presented as well as a variety of projects aiming for a better future in the Alps.

For more info see: http://www.alpconv.org/en/newsevents/latest/NewsDetails.html?entryid=131923

convention alpine small

Published in News from the Alps

Climate Change is threatening our planet. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s ‘Special Report’, if global temperatures rise above 1.5 °C (above pre-industrial levels) we will face extreme climate events, a substantial increase in biodiversity loss, and difficulties gathering fresh water.

 

Climate Change in the Alps
The situation in the Alpine region is even more alarming, with rising temperatures about “twice as large as the global trend” (Brunetti et al., 2009). Furthermore, climate change’s effects are three time stronger in the Alps than the world’s average (OECD, 2007) and gathering fresh water is becoming an increasingly urgent issue. Over 90 percent of glacier volume in the Alps could be lost by 2100. Ice melting has become a symbol of climate change in the Alps, since it is the most visible and easily measured effect of climate change and due to the glaciers’ high importance for the region’s landscapes, ecosystems and economy. ‘The Cryosphere’ review envisages two alarming scenarios in which, depending on the increase in global temperatures, Alpine glaciers may or may not survive. 
Alpine States are committed to climate change action and have adopted the Alpine Convention’s ‘Declaration on Climate Change’ (2006) and ‘Action Plan on Climate Change in the Alps’ (2009).   Since 2011, “taking action on climate change” has been one of the priorities set during the ‘Multi-Annual Work Programme of the Alpine Conference’. This brought about the establishment of the Alpine Climate Board in 2016, which coordinates all climate change-related activities.

 

Concrete actions in Alpine protected areas

Several Alpine protected areas are carrying out concrete actions to deal with the effects of climate change which mainly consist in monitoring and research, adaptation and mitigation measures, promotion, educational activities and dissemination of relevant information to the general public.


In France, the project Alpages sentinelles, started in 2000, studies and measures the effects of climate change on 31 Alpine pastures. The project’s goal is to develop adaptation measures to preserve the traditional pastoral activity in the Alps. It involves the Ecrins National Park, Vanoise National Park, Mercantour National Park, Chartreuse Nature Regional Park, Vercors Nature Regional Park, and Luberon Nature Regional Park. The partners of Alpage sentinelles met last March to analyse the results of 2018 - the warmest year ever recorded since the launch of the project. They agreed that the most effective measure is to manage the Alpine pastures in a way that avoids further stress on the grasslands. Indeed, pastures are already feeling the effects of increasing temperatures, resulting in the depletion of vegetation.
In the same direction, the National Park of Ecrins and the National Park Gran Paradiso launched the LIFE project PastorAlp. Based on a consistent activity of transboundary research, the final output of the project consists of developing a platform of tools to facilitate the adoption of climate change adaptation strategies in the two parks.

 

3pnv006188 Renoncule des glaciers. Au 2e plan les Roches Blanches au fd. de g. à dr. Col des Léchours Pointe des Léchours Col du Pelvo Roux e

 

The Interreg Alcotra CClimaTT project involves transborder protected areas from France and Italy. The objectives of the project include:  gathering more knowledge and understanding of climate change effects; involving and informing the general public; and influencing people’s behaviour toward greater environmental responsibility. Within this framework, the Ente Aree Protette Alpi Marittime and National Park of Ecrins, offered 40,000 euros to eight projects, selected by a jury of experts, that promote a resilient and climate-smart future under the motto “If climate changes… we change as well!”. The winners will implement activities for the mitigation and adaptation to climate change in Alpine areas.


The Festival scientifique “Avec ou sans Glace” is an example of a series of activities held to inform the general public on the effect of climate change in the Alps with specific reference to glaciers melting. The conference organised by the National Park of Vanoise (France) included a ‘geological hike’ to discover the impact of the melting glaciers and a conference where climate change experts interacted with the public.

Apart from informing the general public, protected areas play a key role in carrying out educational activities on climate change effects. For example, the Natural Park of Adamello (Italy), together with a local high school, organised outdoor activities dedicated to pupils under the Interreg project YOUrALPS: The trees in the Alps as a signal of climate change. Students were guided by experts to discover the effects of climate change on forests to better understand the changing ecosystem. In Austria, still under the YOUrALPS project, educational activities were carried out in the Nature Park Geschriebenstein where high school students were confronted with the issue of extreme weather events caused by climate change. During on-field activities, they experimented with climate change adaptation and mitigation measures against floods.

In Slovenia, the Triglav National Park is part of the Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve. This initiative is an intergovernmental research programme that establishes a global network of biosphere reserves. This network strives to uphold the balance between people and nature, biodiversity and sustainable development and upkeep of cultural values. This is a great example of the enhancement of an active ‘sink’ of GHGs, which is a strong mitigation measure against climate change.

Moreover, the Berchtesgaden National Park, in Bavaria, is involved in different climate monitoring activities. One of these activities is the Klimamessnetz (Climate monitoring network).  It relies on the National park service and the German weather service to track the changes in Alpine climate in the long run and in a large area. Moreover, the National Park is one of GLORIA-EUROPE research sites whose goal is to understand future scenarios we will have to face due to climate change.

Climate Change is producing severe effects on the Alps, but protected areas are fighting to resist.


Protected areas actions:


Alpages sentinelles


Pastoralp LIFE Project


Festival scientifique “Avec ou sans Glace”


Triglav National Park, the Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve


Klimamessnetz


If climate changes… We change as well!


The trees in the Alps as a signal of climate change


“Draußen unterrichten“– Biodiversity Strategies


We are Alps


Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments

 

Bibliography

Brunetti et al., 2009, ‘Climate variability and change in the Greater Alpine Region over the last two centuries based on multi-variable analysis’, in International Journal of Climatology

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2018, ‘Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 ºC’, as seen in https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/, 25-04-2019

NASA, 2019, ‘Responding to Climate Change’ as seen in https://climate.nasa.gov/solutions/adaptation-mitigation/, 26-04-2019

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007, ‘Climate Change in the European Alps: Adapting Winter Tourism and Natural Hazards Management’, ed. Shardul Agrawala

Zekollari et al., 2019, ‘Modelling the future evolution of glaciers in the European Alps under the EURO-CORDEX RCM ensemble’, in The Cryosphere, volume 13, pp. 1125-1146

Published in News from the Alps

Is it possible to make the Alps  climate-neutral and resilient by 2050? The Permanent Secretary of the Alpine Convention lays out concrete actions for the Alpine region to turn this objective reality in its new publication "Climate-Neutral and Climate-Resilient Alps 2050". The publication highlights three central policies, coming from the 25th Alpine Convention: The Declaration of Innsbruck, the Alpine Climate Target System 2050 and the 7th Report on the State of the Alps “Natural Hazard Risk Governance”.  The Alpine Climate Target System 2050, prepared by the Alpine Climate Board over the last two years, describes specific actions that must be taken under 12 different sectors to protect the Alps from climate change. The 7th Report on the State of the Alps describes the future for natural hazard risk governance. 

The Alpine Convention’s new publication calls for the Contracting Parties to prioritize climate change action and policies to preserve the Alps’ natural heritage. These targets showcase the Alps as being a model for international cooperation and its role in climate change adaptation and mitigation

The publication “Climate-Neutral and Climate-resilient Alps 2050" is available in English, French, Italian, German and Slovenian

Published in News from the Alps
Thursday, 28 February 2019 15:32

Proceedings ForumAlpinum 2018 online

Alpine Water - common good or source of conflicts?

The proceedings of the FoumAlpinum 2018 and the 7th Water Conference of the Alpine Convention have been published online. The volume contains abstracts of all presentations and posters dealing with questions of water use in the Alpine region and foreseeable future water use conflicts, as well as measures to avoid them. The proceedings also contain a summary of the 7th Water Conference and the results of the mapping of hotspots of water use in the Alpine region, that were recorded during the conference with the participants. The key messages of the ForumAlpinum 2018 are summarized in a policy brief addressed to the Alpine Convention and relevant administrations, entitled „Action needed to prevent future conflict over the use and management of water in the Alpine region in times of climate change and growing demand“.
 
The ForumAlpinum 2018 has been organised by the International Scientific Committee for Alpine Research (ISCAR) together with the 7th Water Conference of the Alpine Convention and the Macroregion Alpine Space (www.forumalpinum.org).

Download Proceedings:  https://doi.org/10.1553/forumalpinum2018

Source: ISCAR

Published in News from the Alps