For protected and wilderness areas to be effective, they must also be accessible to animals and plants. Many Alpine species are restricted to isolated habitat ‘patches’ and have little opportunity to expand their range and improve their numbers. This will ultimately lead to extinction, even though protected areas exist.
Why an ecological network?
An intact ecological network means that individuals of a species can move freely from one natural living space to another via a natural corridor or connecting area. The regular flow of individuals (and hence genes) between different populations of a species is important to avoid low genetic diversity
and the effects of inbreeding depression
– a common ailment in small and isolated populations.
In the Alps, large carnivores like the lynx (Lynx lynx
) are majorly affected by habitat fragmentation, especially in the heavily urbanised valley bottoms. (Read more
With global warming, connectivity will be especially important for species who cannot adapt to new climate conditions and must migrate to new areas. The Alps may act as an important 'shelter' for these species.
What We Do
To tackle the lack of ecological connectivity in the Alps, the WWF European Alpine Programme
and its partners identified a set of areas linking regions of high conservation concern like the Alpine gemstones
and other natural areas. Protecting and restoring these connection areas will help reconstruct the core zones of the ecological network, ensuring the necessary ecological conditions for species across the Alps.