14 2 5 3 81 Alpine Nature 2030 Creating ecological connectivity for generations to come As Director of the Styrian Provincial Forests you participated actively in the establishment of the Netzwerk Naturwald natural forest network project which aims to create eco logical connectivity across provincial borders between two national parks What was most important for you during the rst steps The two large protected areas Kalkalpen National Park about 20 000 hectare and Gesäuse National Park about 12 000 hectare have designated size able core zones unmanaged areas as areas with a high degree of naturalness and undisturbed development potential for classic habitats such as broad leafed old growth with corresponding sensitive ora and fauna So one can think of our rst nature forest cell of 40 hectares as a con necting line or stepping stone In addition to recognising its value as a natural area the Kalkalpen NP partner s clear commit ment to nature conservation by contract and so the fact that there was compensation for setting aside the land irrespective of the actual amount of money involved was decisive in our willing ness to contribute the area What is the role of the Styrian Provincial Forests in creating ecological networks of protected areas Our role was in setting an example and providing an initial spark for potential future area designa tions I should mention that voluntary measures of protection and land sparing of suitable areas are also being contemplated In general what is the role of forestry in this context How can it contribute The role of forestry can indeed be one of partner ship with nature conservation providing a solid foundation of expertise in the area for example by implementation of technical monitoring activities but not research Foresters can contribute eld knowledge many years of documented knowledge about hunting areas and of public acceptance What do you feel is especially dif cult when establishing such networks The use of forest spatial planning could be both obstructive and useful Areas that are taken out of use could should be offset by other areas with sustainable use Meaning not every hectare has to be managed for maximum pro t not every hunting area needs a contractual protection status For economic reasons however land that is used also needs a meaningful spatial connection a net work just like their counterparts the so called stepping stone ecosystems But the general prob lem remains long term funding security even an unused area costs taxes and has maintenance costs What would your advice be to other areas where such networks are to be established Keep the communication going and discuss goals jointly Involve the landowners they have to be taken seriously A partnership approach be wary of the expert mischief of NGOs that want to pro le themselves on others property Interview with DI Andreas HOLZINGER Director Styrian Provincial Forests Service Admont Austria Box 2 Ecological connectivity across provincial borders Netzwerk Naturwald

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