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In search of the big questions: Conserving the European Alps
Date:1/15/2013

The European Alps range span eight countries from France to Slovenia and harbour an extraordinary diversity of habitats, plants and animals, including many species found nowhere else. They are widely considered to be one of the most important regions for the preservation of biodiversity in Europe. But the Alps are not just a natural paradise: they are the home and workplace of up to 14 million people and the destination for more than 100 million tourists each year. The resulting changes to the landscape have led to an increasing fragmentation of the plant and animal populations. Research is clearly needed to establish how can we stop or even reverse this trend but what precise issues should scientists address?

Together with fifteen colleagues from six European countries (Austria, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the UK), Chris Walzer from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) now reports on a priority-setting exercise to identify the key questions relating to the conservation of biodiversity in the European Alps. The questions were selected during a workshop from nearly 500 initial questions submitted by scientists and administrators working at 48 institutions within the Alpine region.

The workshop did far more than merely list the questions that seemed most important: it also classified them according to context. Not surprisingly, the greatest proportion of questions (nearly half) related to nature, with almost as many relating to management, especially legislation, policy and planning needs. Only five of the questions related to people. Notably, more than half the questions touched on more than one of the three contexts, showing the importance of transdisciplinary work in addressing the key topics. The workshop produced a visual representation of the interconnections between the questions, which Walzer describes as a "visual "chaos," although he concedes that it does reflect the fragmented s
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Contact: Dr. Chris Walzer
chris.walzer@vetmeduni.ac.at
43-148-909-15180
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert

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