Major city Major river Water bodies Alpine Convention perimeter National border Nature reserve National park Core area National park Buffer area Regional Nature park Particular protection status UNESCO Biosphere Reserve UNESCO World Heritage Site Alpine Protected Areas 1 4 2 5 3 18 Alpine Nature 2030 Creating ecological connectivity for generations to come Map 1 Protected areas of the Alps1 2 1 Protection of Alpine nature in some of Europe s largest eco systems Reasons for nature protection can be seen mainly in three categories the value of natural richness based on scienti c knowledge the aesthetic value of the landscapes and the intrinsic evidence supporting the wisdom of protecting nature a central element of our living environment The Alps are one of the largest mountain eco systems of Europe representing very precious eco systems characterised by a mosaic of different natural spaces in uenced by centuries of human activities and formed by different climate geological and vegetal conditions The diversity of contrasting geographi cal and ecological situations in the Alps also creates an enormous richness of species and an assortment of small or middle sized habitats many of which are unique to Europe1 WWF European Alpine Pro gramme 2004 IUCN classi ed the Alpine area as one of the last large territories in Europe where species diversity is still exorbitant and widely untouched ar eas remain Bätzing 2003 The Alps are for the European continent a very young high mountain range with a high potential for natural dynamics often called nature disaster This dynamic effect is nevertheless a normal feature of young mountain ranges of this altitude Additionally this dynamic is enhanced nowadays by the phenomena of climate change reduction of the permafrost areas and linked movements of soil and rocks and an intensive human use of the Alps intensive tourism and infra structure energy production waterproo ng of impor tant surfaces The fact that the Alps are the only high mountain range in the heart of Europe with this high nature dynamic combined with the long standing tradition of human use of the Alpine natural space makes the Alpine area an extraordinary and valuable territory even on a global scale To protect this natural heritage and to guarantee its preservation for the next generations is a central issue of the Alpine Convention and other international or EU legislations as well as of the protected areas of the Alps However protection provided by international conventions and the respective protected areas does not necessarily integrate biodiversity hotspots and

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