The Impuls4Action project aims to trigger actions to support sustainable development on all levels by providing appropriate tools, raising awareness and finding new models for sustainable soil protection in the Alps. Climate change increases the need for integrative activities and tailor-made instruments concerning soil protection and Green Infrastructure (GI) development.
There are three thematic pilot cases:
1. Water management
2. Inner Development
Peatlands play a significant role worldwide in the conservation of biodiversity. They are very important as an ecological infrastructure, as they both perform elementary functions - core areas for the conservation and promotion of the habitats of populations of priority species and network areas as a link between these populations. In addition to these basic functions of the ecological infrastructure, the peatlands play a decisive role due to their various ecosystem services. They contribute to the conservation and promotion of biodiversity and ecological connectivity and they act as CO2 sinks and play an important role in climate change.
Peatlands are the ecosystems with the largest C-pool per unit area worldwide. Their degradation - particularly through drainage and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions - has a major impact on climate change. In the Alps, they play an important role, as they have here the main area of distribution. The pressure on the peatlands, especially in the intensively used Alpine valleys, is very high. Like all ecological infrastructures, peatlands do not respect political boundaries. Therefore, the protection and promotion of Alpine peatlands requires international cooperation. In addition to the spatial planning safeguarding of the areas, an active implementation in the field is required.
To achieve the objectives of peatland protection, it is essential to involve experts and stakeholders who are active in the field of peatland, soil and climate protection. In addition, the data availability in the various Alpine countries must be harmonised and compiled in such a way that they are available to all stakeholders. The information will be integrated into the Impuls4Action Toolbox. This should support the actors in their search for suitable examples of projects and applicable methods, as well as in finding experts. Together with national, regional and local experts and stakeholders from the Alpine region, a road map for further implementation projects in peatland conservation will be developed.
Over the last 120 years, temperatures in the Alpine region have risen by almost two degrees Celsius - about twice as much as the global average. This rise in temperature has consequences for Alpine ecosystems and the soils. Changes are becoming increasingly visible, particularly in the water balance of the soil. In many places, the groundwater level is falling and droughts are becoming more frequent and more severe. Weather events are also becoming more volatile and extreme. In addition to dry periods, short-term heavy rainfall events or storm events are becoming more frequent. Agriculture in the Alpine region is already facing major challenges, especially in the near and medium term. Farmers have already begun to adapt to the new climate conditions with a variety of measures.
In the field of soil water balance, new climate data or climate forecasts, among other things, can provide valuable insights into future adjustments in land use. For example, climate-related scenarios on the distribution of dry areas provide helpful information on the extent and severity of drought monitoring in the Alpine region.
The "Impuls4Action" project places particular emphasis on the exchange of information and experience. Within the framework of numerous workshops with stakeholders, not only scientific information is exchanged, but also concrete measures and best practice examples are discussed. Among many other examples, experiences about concrete management techniques in grassland farming as a form of adaptation to the changing water balance in the soil were exchanged in a workshop.
The Impuls4Action Toolbox aims to provide actors in this field with suitable examples, projects, methods and experts in order to promote the exchange of know-how and stimulate best practices in water management for Alpine soils.
Since the settlement area in the Alpine region is limited, a sustainable development of land consumption should be aimed at. Inner development has a key role to play here when it comes to shaping sustainable urban and village development. The priority of inner development over outer development has become a consensus in the professional planning discourses.
In practice, however, the situation is different in many municipalities. Especially small towns in shrinking or stabilising areas are confronted with a loss of function (including housing and trade). This can be seen in vacancies and wasteland in town centres, while on the outskirts or in town districts it is not uncommon for more land to be designated for residential and commercial purposes. On the one hand, this is due to exogenous as well as structural and overall social factors such as demographic change, changing housing needs or digitisation in the retail sector. On the other hand, obstacles and blockades to targeted inner development are due to a gap between knowledge and implementation
At the same time, the need for intensive involvement of the local population and actors is becoming apparent: Where municipal actors actively support inner development in interaction with owners, local civil society, local economy and residents, impulses for living residential and supply locations can be successfully created.
The Impuls4Action Toolbox would now like to provide actors with suitable examples, projects, methods and experts in this area in order to promote the exchange of know-how and encourage improved inner development, because every area of land consumed is not only no longer available to future generations, but also already now restricts, for example, the agricultural land available for food production, reduces ecosystem services and makes areas more vulnerable to climate change and leads to increased costs for development, while at the same time making inner cities or town centres desolate and ageing.