European Alpine Programme
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At the end of 1999 an Alpine Programme was initiated by WWF Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland to explore the feasibility of adopting the ecoregional conservation (ERC) approach in the Alps. ERC is a philosophy and methology of intervention recommended for ecoregions identified through the Global 200 Ecoregions of WWF. The Alps are amongst the 12 priority ecoregions of Europe and Middle East as they represent a fine example of a particular habitat type, namely the European-Mediterranean Montane Mixed Forests. Furthermore, they were identified as a world hotspot for plant diversity, and their conservation status based on the direct impact of human activities is considered critical or endangered. By adopting ERC for the Alps, the WWF offices join several other ERC initiatives on the planet and shift towards integrated, large-scale and long-term conservation.
In 1999, WWF and its partners launched a programme to halt the loss of biodiversity worldwide. The ecoregional approach aims at conserving biodiversity in ecoregions, representative biogeographical areas of global biological diversity. Over 200 ecoregions on the globe (the Global 200) were recognized as particularly crucial for the conservation at global level.
Besides representing one of the richest biodiversity hotspots in Europe, the Alps are also one of the most exploited ecosystems worldwide and therefore were included in the Global 200.
At the end of the same year, five WWF national Alpine organizations (WWF Austria, WWF France, WWF Germany, WWF Italy, and WWF Switzerland) founded the European Alpine Programme (EALP) in order to implement an ecoregional conservation plan in the Alps. By adopting the ecoregional approach, the WWF offices shift towards integrated, large-scale and long-term conservation, supporting the objectives of the Alpine Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Together with its partners, the WWF European Alpine Programme (EALP) elaborated the ecoregional conservation plan in the Alps, identifying thereby strategic objectives and specific targets in the frame of a comprehensive and farsighted biodiversity vision. During the process, 24 priority conservation areas (PCAs) were identified as the most important for the protection of biodiversity in the Alps. Based on this scenario, programs and activities essential to maintaining the biodiversity can be defined at both the ecoregional and priority area level. The successive phases includes the development and implementation of an action plan for each PCA and the involvement of relevant stakeholders.