14 2 5 3 78 Alpine Nature 2030 Creating ecological connectivity for generations to come thirds of potential stepping stone areas are owned by them and these owners play an active role in imple menting the assembly of protected areas Furthermore as responsible forest enterprises they are interested in conservation of the outstanding biodiversity which is also a great bene t for a sustainable use of resource wood in the long term Work on the collective of protected areas in the Pilot Region started within the project ECONNECT under the lead of Gesäuse National Park At the conclusion of the EU funded project ECONNECT the task was taken over by Swiss MAVA Foundation pour la nature Since then the work on ecological connectivity within Netzwerk Naturwald has been generously funded by this private organisation The Alpine arc is one of MAVA s core areas for their funding of work on ecological connectivity and the Northern Limestone Alps region naturally draws their attention as it is one of the last remaining large areas in the Alps widely covered by forest without major frag mentation For this reason European conservation poli cies related to biodiversity in the Alps should focus on Primeval forest as it should be conserved and restored in the core areas and stepping stones of the Netzwerk Naturwald forest network this area in future Here there is still a largely intact area that is worthy of protection for future generations In the coming years in addition to implementation of the collective of protected areas Netzwerk Naturwald will work on transfer of knowledge gained in its Alps wide projects as a best practice example Collabora tion is planned with other Pilot Regions in the Alpine Space project ALP BIO NET2030 and other projects In addition to ecological connectivity a high prior ity goal of the Netzwerk Naturwald project team is to raise awareness of the outstanding natural resources of the Northern Limestones Alps amongst the local population as well as stakeholders and decision mak ers It should be common sense that biodiversity its conservation and its sustainable use represent the greatest opportunities of this region in the competi tion between regions throughout Europe Perhaps an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve spreading over the three protected areas and therefore useful for all three fed eral states of Austria would be an ideal treasure chest in which to showcase the gemstones in an attractive way and also gain economic advantages from these natural jewels

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