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© WWF-Switzerland/A. della Bella / WWF
Connecting Alpine Nature
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.

Our Vision

In the long term, relevant ecological corridors of the Alps are functional.

Genetic Diversity

Genetic diversity is essential for the persistance of animal and plant species. Small and isolated populations of a species are intrinsically at risk of losing genetic diversity. This reduces the ability of a species to adapt to changing environmental conditions and increases their susceptibility to new pests and diseases.

Alpine landscape. © WWF

Internal Corridors 

Within the Alps, WWF and its partners helped to identify internal connection areas that link the Alpine gemstones (Priority Conservation Areas) with each other and to other important natural areas.

Autumn mists in Emmental, with alps bernese in background. © WWF

External Corridors

WWF and its partners also identified areas linking the Alpine region to surrounding regions, like the Apennines, Jura Mountains, Carpathians, and Dinaric Alps.



International Commission for the Protection of the Alps (CIPRA)
© International Commission for the Protection of the Alps (CIPRA) © CIPRA

Network of Alpine Protected Areas (ALPARC)
© Network of Alpine Protected Areas (ALPARC) © ALPARC

International Scientific Committee for Alpine Research (ISCAR)
© International Scientific Committee for Alpine Research (ISCAR) © ISCAR