On 2 February 2018, the consortium of forestry associations from the Alpine regions (ARGE) met for the twelfth time to present the Helvetia Alpine Protection Forest Award. The members – forestry associations from the Alpine regions of Bavaria, Graubünden, Corinthia, Liechtenstein, St.Gallen, South Tyrol, Tyrol and Vorarlberg – present the award to exemplary protection forest projects. In the presence of government councillors from Liechtenstein and St.Gallen and national councillors from Tyrol and Vorarlberg, three projects were honoured in the categories "School projects", "PR work, innovation and protection forest partnerships" and "Successful projects" at the Kornhaus in Kempten. The jury also selected a person as "protection-forest patron" for their service to protection forests.
22 projects and ideas were submitted from Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. The international jury honoured the following projects with an award:
"School projects" category
The Imst Unterstadt school from Tyrol, Austria, impressed the jury with its project entitled "The forest protects, is useful and educates". It provides schoolchildren during their four years of primary school with in-depth knowledge about the significance of the forest as an eco-system. The children learn that it is important to preserve forests for the long term. A connection to the immediate habitat is created through activities in the local municipal forest. The project covers a range of pedagogical undertakings and will be continued in the future. The municipality of Imst is a partner of the Tyrol protection-forest platform.
"PR work, innovation and protection forest partnerships" category
The Tyrol project "Protecting birds in the mountain forest" is a community project between the Karwendel park and the Oberinntal forestry service, part of Österreichische Bundesforste AG, a state-owned forestry company. The project implements findings from ornithological surveys in the Karwendel park in forest-related measures. These are aimed at increasing the natural stability of the protection forest and also maintaining habitats for bird species in the mountain forest. Together with the land-owners, nature protection and forestry experts have set out tips for action in a practical handbook.
"Successful projects" category
In addition to technical avalanche barriers, the municipality of Amden in Canton St.Gallen has used the protective function of the forest to prevent avalanche fractures from forming for some years now. The "Buech" reforestation project was set up around 60 years ago. Thanks to cultivation combined with avalanche barriers, the forest now offers the village of Amden full protection. A purely technical barrier system would have been much more expensive.
The jury's "special prize"
The salt industry and hunting are the main reasons why the trees – mainly firs – in the Berchtesgaden Alpine National Park are often subject to scaling damage. The numbers of wild animals were extremely high until the 1980s, and the tradition of hunting is firmly rooted. The example of the Steinberg, above the municipality of Ramsau, shows that targeted hunting, supplemented with artificial rejuvenation of beech and fir in group selections, allowed the firs to be successfully expanded into mixed forests. This also retained the protective function and helped promote biodiversity.
Professor Ulrich Ammer to be the third protection-forest patron
For the third time, the ARGE alpine forestry associations have awarded the title of "protection-forest patron". This year, Ulrich Ammer from Eichendorf, Germany, has been recognized for his services to protection forests. Ulrich Ammer worked for decades to promote constructive cooperation among a variety of forest stakeholder groups. He proved that managing forests can preserve or even increase biodiversity. His scientific analyses on forest development proved early on that there is a need for protection forest regeneration in order to preserve the protective function of mountain forests.
Overview of all the winners of the Helvetia Alpine Protection Forest Award 2017:
- School projects category: "The forest protects, is useful and educates", Imst school, Tyrol, Austria
- PR work, innovation and protection forest partnerships category: Protecting birds in the mountain forest, Tyrol, Austria
- Successful projects category: "Buech" reforestation, municipality of Amden, St.Gallen, Switzerland
- Special jury prize for 2018: Transformation of pure fir stands into mixed mountain forests at protection forest sites in the Berchtesgaden national park, using the example of Steinberg above the municipality of Ramsau, Bavaria, Germany
- Protection-forest patron: Prof. Ulrich Ammer from Eichendorf, Germany
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