The alpine space is characterised by its close association with nature, several rare species and natural habitats of European significance, and a high proportion of conservation areas.
It also hosts more than 120 million tourists a year, making it one of the most important leisure and recreation areas in Europe. Many leisure activities can be pursued, and the economic potential is high.
The sensitivity of alpine habitats and biotopes as well as the susceptibility of many species to disturbances, may lead to the potential for conflicts between the various land uses, esp. tourism and conservation. The division of large, high quality habitats by regional and national borders adds further challenges to the planning processes and their implementation.
Therefore an alpine-wide collaborative approach is of utmost importance. The management plan is an adequate instrument to address those problems. It should integrate ecological, social and economic interests. Progress on these issues requires a solid data base about ecological, local social, and visitor information, as well as analytical tools that integrate these data effectively into the planning process. Furthermore, the project will determine which kinds of data and what form of participation can make the most significant contributions to reach sustainability in tourism regions.
Overall, this project supports the European goal of sustainable tourism land use. During the planning process it will be necessary to test different options of public involvement and collaborative planning. A first step will be public information sessions, which may be followed by working groups guided by local and external experts, and field work to determine specific management measures.
We will also encourage the information exchange between participants of the various study areas to learn from each other. A special framework will be designed, based on the experiences in the study areas, under special consideration of the integration of tourism representatives, of ecologically sensitive areas, and leisure and tourism activities. The integration of practical experiences with the advise of experts, and the best practices examples ensure the applicabilty of the framework and its relevance for Natura 2000 sites with intensive touristical use.The developed framework will show opportunities for conflict resolutions between tourism and nature conservation.
The test sites will offer excellent opportunities to demonstrate suitable, and sustainable solutions in different situations and will help other destinations to start similar collaborative planning processes based on this framework.These areas will have pilot function.
The involved tourism destinations will be the basis for building up an European network of Natura 2000 sites with intensive tourist use. An internet plattform, several presentations, publications and an European symposium will be the first step to initiate this network.
The presented project is the first dealing with management plans in Natura 2000 sites in intensivly used touristic areas and to bring all those groups together who are responsible for Natura 2000 managment plans throughout the alpine area and to support the harmonization of existing guidelines and practices. Innovative is the cooperation of partners from different sectors like nature conservation, tourism, visitor management and remote sensing. Also the methods we will develop and apply for the evaluation of visitor impacts, using new technology like GPS, stalite data, area photos are innovative and contribute to sustainable tourism and suitable measures in the management plan.