Climate change threatens Austria's alpine world

Temperature rise three times as noticeable as elsewhere

Glacier melt in the Alps: Pasterze © Harald Frater
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The Austrian Alps are facing heavy losses. According to a study commissioned by the WWF, biodiversity in our neighboring country is declining significantly due to climate change. In the Alps, the rise in temperature is three times as noticeable as in other parts of the world. Above all, grayling, perch and brown trout, black grouse and hare, alluvial forests and many alpine plants are at risk.

Austria has already recorded a temperature increase of 1.8 degrees. Another increase in temperature of two to three degrees in the Alpine region is considered practically unavoidable. How many species the Alps will lose is unpredictable. However, the UN World Climate Report estimates that up to a third of global biodiversity is at stake. "The tourists do not feel the climatic stress of the Alps yet, but that changes at the latest when spruce forests disappear, because it is too hot, " explains WWF species protection expert Stefan Ziegler.

The big losers of climate change include all animals and plants that like it cold. Many native to the Alps species are dying out, take their place in many places gradually Mediterranean species. According to the WWF, many animals and plants will try to move to higher elevations. Overall, the vegetation belt can move upwards by 400 to 700 meters.

"All species that rely on cool temperatures will dispute each other's increasingly scarce habitat. The Alps are the deadly species trap for many animals and plants. Particularly vulnerable are those who are very isolated and those who can not dodge further, "predicts WWF expert Ziegler.

The WWF called for a drastic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions to mitigate climate change. At the same time, nature must be supported in preparing for climate change. Ziegler: "We have to avoid any additional stress on water, forests, animals and plants. Specifically, this means more protected areas, more indigenous, heat- and dry-resistant trees, more renatured rivers, more networked habitats to give plants and animals more opportunities to hike. "Display

(WWF Germany, 09.07.2007 - NPO)