On September 8th, ALPARC and EUSALP Action Group 7 (AG7) co-organised a session at the IUCN World Congress, entitled "Connecting protected areas and beyond to safeguard mountainous ecosystem services and adapt to climate change - An intergenerational dialogue". This joint session brought together experts from various Alpine countries and beyond, as well as four young professionals from fields as varied as research, forestry and environmental education. As symbols of the future, these young professionals came to share their expectations, hopes and solutions to strengthen ecological connectivity in the Alps.
Together, ALPARC, AG7, the Swiss National Park and several witnesses called for more protected areas with a high level of protection - at all altitudes - and above all for greater connectivity between these areas. Ecological connectivity provides a solution to the growing fragmentation of the Mountain space and especially as an adaptation strategy to keep biodiversity and to adapt to climate change. It plays a central role in ecosystem functioning, which is why ALPARC, the Alpine Convention, EUSALP and many others are now cooperating on this topic.
The speakers also called for integrating ecological connectivity into all spatial planning instruments at all scales (local to international) by using an multistakeholder and inter-disciplinary approach. The young professionals have a key role to play in implementing such a territorial planning strategy and projects like OpenSpaceAlps are essential to maintain open spaces as part of Alpine green infrastructure (GI).
The event was followed by dozens of attendees both on site and online, thanks to a live broadcast. A significant amount of time was devoted to the questions raised by the attendees.
Beyond the sole topic of ecological connectivity, this session was the opportunity to offer worldwide visibility to the Alpine territory and mountain environment in general, and to stress out the many challenges it is currently facing. As providers of crucial ecosystem goods and services, mountains are essential for global sustainable development.
Furthermore, the intergenerational dialogue initiated is intended to continue beyond the congress, to work out solution to these challenges all together.