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Alpine convention & ALPARC

The Alpine Convention

The Alpine Convention is an international treaty between Austria, Switzerland, Germany, France, Liechtenstein, Italy, Monaco, Slovenia and the European Union. The Alpine Convention applies to the entire Alpine region, an area of around 190,000 km2 inhabited by 13.2 million people.

The Alpine Conference is the Alpine Convention's decision-making body and usually meets every two years at ministerial level. The Permanent Committee is the executive body and meets two to three times a year. Each country holds the rotating presidency of both the Alpine Conference and the Permanent Committee for a two-year term. The Permanent Secretariat has its head office in Innsbruck (Austria) and a branch office in Bolzano (Italy); it supports the Alpine Convention bodies and coordinates Alpine research activities.

The Alpine Convention works to ensure sustainable development in the Alpine region, a fundamental concept that runs through the framework convention signed in 1991 and the thematic protocols on spatial planning, mountain farming, conservation of nature and the countryside, mountain forests, tourism, soil conservation, energy, and transport. With its integrated approach embracing ecological, economic and social aspects, the Alpine Convention has paved the way for other mountain areas and conventions. The interdependence of the different development issues is particularly apparent in Alpine cultural landscapes.

The Alpine Conference's multi-annual work programme for the period 2005-2010 contains the following priorities:

  • Report on the state of the Alps: monitoring and interpreting trends
  • Joint projects on four key issues: mobility, accessibility and transit traffic; society, culture and identity; tourism, leisure and sport; nature, agriculture and forestry, and cultural landscapes
  • Completing the legal framework: protocols on population and culture, preventing air pollution, water management, and waste management
  • Public relations
  • Cooperation and sharing experiences
  • Cooperation with other mountain areas and conventions

Within the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention, the Task Force Protected Areas is responsible for devising practical measures to implement the Alpine Convention's nature conservation protocol, notably through the creation of an ecological network of protected areas in the Alps. It also organises thematic exchanges between protected area managers.

ALPARC

The Alpine Network of Protected Areas (ALPARC) was established to strengthen international cooperation between Alpine protected area managers, to carry out joint projects and to create an ecological continuum and corridors between protected areas. It is also responsible for raising public awareness about the activities in the Alpine protected areas.

The Alpine Network of Protected Areas seeks to pool the expertise, techniques, and methods used by Alpine protected area managers. It promotes cooperation in the fields of conservation and managing the Alpine protected areas; developing sustainable tourism; supporting mountain agriculture and forestry; raising awareness of ecological issues, and informing and educating the general public and local residents.

At present, ALPARC brings together around 800 protected areas of more than 100 ha and is managed by three bodies:

  • President and vice-president: representing the ALPARC network;
  • General assembly: composed of representatives from all Alpine protected areas who meet once every two years;
  • International Steering Committee: made up of protected area representatives from different Alpine regions and countries; defines guidelines for international activities in accordance with the protected areas' priorities and demands.

Alpine-Carpathian cooperation

The Carpathians are one of the Alpine Convention priority areas for cooperation. In recognition of the long and valuable tradition of sharing experiences in the Alpine and Carpathian countries, a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between the Alpine Convention and the Carpathian Convention was signed during the First Conference of the Parties of the Carpathian Convention in Kiev, Ukraine (December 2006). The MOU foresees cooperation in the fields of working with the general public, cooperation between protected areas, and joint activities in the framework of the Mountain Partnership – a voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain people and protecting mountain environments around the world which has its head office in the FAO's buildings.

There is a long history of cooperation between Alpine and Carpathian protected areas. The two areas began undertaking joint activities in 1999, and more are added to the list each year. ALPARC and several Alpine countries have been actively involved in the creation of the CNPA since 2003, and this has generated a number of joint events: the NATURA 2000 colloquium in Neukirchen, Austria (2004); the workshop on integrated management in Mala Fatra, Slovakia (2006); the workshop on tourism and sustainable development held in Piatra Craiului, Romania (2006).

The development of communication tools in 2007 marked a major milestone for cooperation between the Carpathian protected areas and between the two massifs. Future actions may include the creation of an ecological continuum, an evaluation of global climate change and its effect on biodiversity, awareness-raising activities and many others.