The Helvetia Alpine Protection Forest Award (Alpiner Schutzwaldpreis Helvetia) was presented for the tenth time this year on 22 January in Toblach, South Tyrol. The consortium of forestry associations from the Alpine regions of Bavaria, Graubünden, Corinthia, Liechtenstein, St.Gallen, South Tyrol, Tyrol and Vorarlberg (ARGE Alpenländischer Forstvereine) presents the award to exemplary protection forest projects. These projects are broken down into three categories: "School projects", "PR work, innovation and protection forest partnerships", and "Successful projects", with one project in each category being awarded a special prize by the jury. 18 projects and ideas from Austria, Switzerland, Bavaria and South Tyrol were submitted for the award. The jury nominated ten of these for the award. Overview of all the winners of the Helvetia Alpine Protection Forest Award:
Tree festivals in South Tyrol, Italy
Tree festivals have been enshrined in Italy's forest legislation since 1923. Over three generations, they have given many of South Tyrol's residents their first conscious contact with the forest. Through the tree festivals, employees of the national forestry service bring the forest and nature closer to around 11,000 primary school children each year.
PR work, innovation and protection forest partnerships
Regeneration dynamics in Tyrol, Austria
The regeneration dynamics project maps the current development of forest regrowth and the impact of wildlife and grazing in Tyrol. Systematic surveys by foresters, property owners and hunters are evaluated uniformly. They show whether the forest – and in particular the protection forest – is able to develop or if there action needs to be taken. Areas requiring action are then taken into account in preliminary discussions relating to culling plans.
Eggersriet municipality: Protection forest project in Mattenbach, Canton of St.Gallen, Switzerland
Intensive precipitation caused landslides in the Mattenbach ravine, depositing large amounts of wood into the streams. To prevent flooding, an interdisciplinary inter-cantonal protection forest project was initiated. By removing driftwood from the streams and thinning out the forest as a stability measure, the danger of obstructions was eliminated.
Special jury prize for 2015
Reservoirs for combating forest fires in Moesano, Canton Graubünden, Switzerland
To supplement other measures aimed at preventing forest fires, the network of fire water reservoirs was reinforced throughout the Moesano region. This network means that a very large proportion of the forest in Moesano – and above all a higher percentage of the protection forest – is within three minutes' helicopter flying time, thus ensuring a rapid response in the event of fire.
From among the projects submitted, the jury also makes a special commendation and this year, for the first time, it selected a "protection forest patron". This title went to Johann Oberhammer, a priest from Taisten, South Tyrol.
Helvetia Alpine Protection Forest Award emphasizes importance of forest
The Helvetia Alpine Protection Forest Award seeks to make people more aware of the importance of the forest's protective role and to commend projects making a special contribution to this type of woodland. In many parts of the Alps, it is thanks to protection forest that people are able to live and work in these regions at all. The Helvetia Alpine Protection Forest Award is organized by ARGE Alpenländische Forstvereine, a consortium of eight Alpine forestry associations. The Helvetia insurance group has been the main sponsor of the Alpine Protection Forest Award since 2014. The company has for many years been committed to the maintenance and retention of Alpine protection forest.