At the presentation of the eleventh Helvetia Protection Alpine Forest Award in the Austrian town of Vandans, projects from Bavaria, Carinthia, Vorarlberg and Liechtenstein have been singled out as winners. Georg Fritz has also been awarded the title of protection-forest patron for his services to protection forests.
The Consortium of Forestry Associations of Bavaria, Graubünden, Carinthia, Liechtenstein, St Gallen, South Tyrol, Tyrol and Vorarlberg (ARGE Alpenländischer Forstvereine) met in Vandans on 20 January 2017 to present the eleventh Helvetia Protection Alpine Forest Award (Alpiner Schutzwaldpreis Helvetia). With this award, the ARGE recognizes exemplary projects that champion protection forests. There are three categories for the award: "School projects", "PR work, innovation and protection forest partnerships" and "Successful projects". The jury also awards a special prize.
25 projects and ideas from Austria, Switzerland, Bavaria and South Tyrol were submitted for the award. The jury has now announced the winners:
"School projects" category
Rettenberg Primary School – lead school in the Bergwaldoffensive initiative, Bavaria (Germany)
The aim of this school project is to give pupils a greater understanding of forests, particularly protection and mountain forests, in the area covered by the Bergwaldoffensive initiative (Grünten and Rottachberg). The project takes the form of practical and theoretical exercises, field trips, exhibitions and events. The collaboration is long-term, supporting the children throughout their entire time at primary school.
"PR work, innovation and protection forest partnerships" category
Forest adventure day – the forest comes to town, Carinthia (Austria)
Each year in Carinthia the Carinthian Forestry Association and the Carinthian District Forestry Inspectorate organize "Forest adventure day – the forest comes to town". This major event provides the general public and young people with a greater understanding of forests and their wide variety of functions – from commercial forests to protection forests, from water source protection to riverside woodland and from single-species woodland to mixed forests. The key players in the forestry and timber sector take part in this large-scale information initiative.
"Successful projects" category
Kirchwald Raggal – a prime example of protection forest management, forest hunting management and professional timber marketing, Vorarlberg (Austria)
The cultivation of the protection "Kirchwald" forest in Raggal is a prime example of integrated forest and wildlife management. The current very successful forest landscape is evidence of what is possible with clear-cut priorities, the involvement of all concerned and a high degree of personal commitment. The targeted marketing of softwood is an acknowledgement of the far-sighted focus of the Frassenwald farming community.
Special jury prize for 2016
Integral rehabilitation of the mountain areas in the Principality of Liechtenstein (Principality of Liechtenstein)
The aim of the integral rehabilitation of the mountain areas is to sustainably develop Liechtenstein’s Alpine region. Projects are being supported within a defined perimeter taking account of the interests of all the land owners and countryside users. These projects involve Alpine and forestry management, natural hazards, leisure and recreation and also settlement development. Almost five decades after the start of the rehabilitation programme, its project managers are viewing the outcome as positive.
The award ceremony was attended by politicians as well as official representatives. As a prominent protection-forest ambassador for the main sponsor Helvetia Insurance, the Austrian skier Alexandra Meissnitzer took part in the event. The commendation speech was given by Thomas Neusiedler, a board member of Helvetia Austria.
Georg Fritz selected as second protection-forest patron
For the second time, the ARGE Alpine Forestry Associations have awarded the title of "protection-forest patron". This year, Georg Fritz from Möggers in Vorarlberg has been recognized for his services to protection forests. He has promoted resource-conserving forestry management and exploitation in many different ways. This is hugely beneficial to the extremely important protective function of the woodland. The new protection-forest patron’s special concern is to strike a balance between forest, wildlife and hunting. With much commitment, he and his fellow campaigners have been able to achieve this using the "Möggers hunting model". To the delight of the forest owners and hunters, the young forest and its wildlife are doing well. The wildlife is benefiting from the ideal grazing conditions created in the woodland. Groups from Austria and abroad are making pilgrimages to Möggers to see the positive forest landscape. Georg Fritz can also be considered a pioneer in forest education thanks to his earlier introduction of a woodland nature trail with information and activities. This is still being used enthusiastically every week by many families.
Helvetia Protection Alpine Forest Award emphasizes the importance of woodland
The Helvetia Protection Alpine Forest Award seeks to make people more aware of the importance of protection forests 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 Protection Alpine Forest Award is organized by the Consortium of Alpine Forestry Associations.