5th Ausseer Naturraumgespräche

On the 24 October, the European Wilderness Society attended the 5th Ausseer Naturraumgespräche with the topic “Between land and water – ecosystem peat bog”  took place in Bad Mitterndorf. As part of the ongoing LIFE+ project Ausseerland, this event was a very fruitful cooperation between the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union of Styria (Naturschutzbund Steiermark) and the Austrian Federal Forestry Company (Österreichische Bundesforste).

Passionate peat bog-lovers, locals, conservationists, biologists and researchers from different organisations, universities and National Parks, along with students from a forestry school, listened to very informative, historical and scientific presentations focusing on peat bog’s biodiversity, management and restoration. Discussions gave opportunity to exchange thoughts and approaches.

Various groups and organisations showed how they enthusiastically fight for the protection of peat bogs. Fortunately, there are local initiatives and movements who put their time and passion into protecting those special and important ecosystems. Passion seems to be the key.

Conclusions and summarized outcomes of this day:

Peat bogs are important, because …

  • their high value for climate regulation – for local, regional and global climate (climate change prevention) and are important CO2 reservoirs
  • they have an extreme value as water reservoir, for the water budget and balancing of water distribution
  • they are a unique habitat for special plants and animal species, sometimes even endemic species
  • are of high value to peat bog specialized and dependant heteroptera species

Main challenges seem to be …

  • Conflicting goals: different stakeholders (agriculture, forestry, different kinds of biologists) are aiming for different goals and priorities.  It is very challenging to find a common management concept. A common conflict-solving-strategy is desperately needed.
  • More and more stakeholders on diminishing areas.
  • Good tools for protection available (Natura 2000 with FFH directive), but often not implemented in a good way. There are still peat bogs being destroyed. Old style methods that don’t really guarantee conservation, are a big problem. There is the clear call for improvement and bringing theory into implementation is important.
  • People are not learning enough from the past, making same mistakes again.
  • Lack of knowledge about peat-bogs.
  • Imbalance and mistakes in the data (as result of different methods used for surveys) which is a huge problem for nature conservation!
  • People often don’t show enough interest – outreach work and educational programs as a good answer (some are pretty popular and well visited already)
  • Protected area doesn’t necessarily mean protection of peat bogs.
  • Peat bogs in Austria are in a really bad condition, the conservation status is alarming.
  • Need of more data to be able to protect.

Hopes for future peat bog conservation:

A clear statement, coming from many sides, was the hope and call for synergetic exchange of knowledge between different initiatives and organizations who focus on peat bog protection.

  • Working together: allows a broader approach to solve challenges
  • Share and combine knowledge, exchange of thoughts and experience
  • Small-scale strategies show successful peat-bog protection
  • Combination of smaller projects to big project – using benefit of synergies
  • More implementation of protection, not just theoretical conservation
  • Sharing the passion for peat bogs and nature conservation
  • Implementing conservation management based on contracts with landowners

The conference concluded with a call for finding easier and better ways to implement peat bog conservation, instead of losing too much precious time being stuck in theory.

The presentations and discussions were followed by excursions to “Zlaimmöser Moore” and “Mitterndorfer Biotopverbund”. This allowed people to explore these special peat bog-ecosystems and feel their mysteries.

 

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