Nature Conservation in the 21st Century
We are passionate about the diversity of nature and ensure its preservation for future generations.
As a research and consulting company for “Nature Conservation in the 21st Century”, we accompany and support our international and national partners in preserving and improving natural habitats, enabling extraordinary experiences of nature and further developing the living and economic conditions in the respective regions.
With our specialised ecological planning, vegetation surveys, innovative communication concepts and sustainable development cooperation, we are actively committed to fulfilling the global Sustainable Development Goals.
Preparation of the management plan for the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Unteres Murtal in the Styrian Volcanic Region
The aim of the project is the creation of a future-oriented management plan for the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Unteres Murtal, based on the Austria-wide recognized ‘Criteria for Biosphere Parks in Austria’ of the Austrian ‘Man and Biosphere’ National Committee. The management plan serves to bundle regional forces, to steer and control the development of the biosphere reserve, as well as to support project submissions in a national and international context. The specifications of the Lima Action Plan and the international specifications for biosphere reserves of UNESCO as well as the goals for sustainable development (Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs) are taken into account.
City meets Nature: Habitat design for moor frogs and co. in the Natura 2000 site Lendspitz-Maiernigg
The cooperation project aims to implement some of the measures proposed in the Area Management Plan (Glatz-Jorde et al., 2015) in the Klagenfurt Natura 2000 site. These measures serve to conserve and improve the habitats of numerous rare species listed in the Habitats Directive, such as the Balkan moor frog, the Desmoulin's whorl snail, the dice snake, the European bitterling as well as breeding birds and reed-dwelling species. A total of seven measures are to be implemented by 2022.
E.C.O. Institute of Ecology is responsible for the overall concept, part of the implementation and the monitoring of the measures to improve the ecology of 6 ha of land in a sustainable way.
By erecting spacers and reed fences on 200 m of shoreline, the reed belt is to be protected in the long term from being entered and disturbed as well as from wave action, so that the breeding birds can continue to find an appropriate habitat. Accompanying measures to raise awareness are implemented with the help of area rangers. A good conservation status is to be restored on three hectares of moor grass meadows. For this purpose, bushes will be removed from peripheral areas and parts of the meadows will be mowed again.
For the protected species Balkan moor frog and large white-faced darter (https://www.arge-naturschutz.at/projekte/tiere/grosse-moosjungfer/) and various protected migratory bird species (e.g. various duck species, great white heron), two additional fish-free and sunny amphibian spawning waters will be created in the Lendspitz area. These will then also provide an accessible learning space for excursions for the Educational Lab of the adjacent Lakeside Park, where scientific knowledge transfer is offered in numerous formats. Furthermore, a pilot experiment for the reintroduction and reproduction of the European bitterling with symbiotic bivalves in a small water body will be carried out. A corresponding control of success and monitoring will be carried out.
The 2013 World Rowing Champion, Michaela Taupe-Traer, could be won as ambassador for this high-profile project.
GEO-Day of Nature. Biodiversity field research event in the UNESCO Carinthian Nockberge Biosphere Reserve.
Since 2016, E.C.O. has been supporting the Carinthian Nockberge Biosphere Reserve in the organisation and implementation of the annual GEO-Day of Nature. Every year, biology experts are invited to this field research event, who document all animal and plant species they can track down within a 24-hour time window. The date is set between May and August, depending on the altitude of the delimited investigation area in the Carinthian part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. During the GEO-Days of the last years (2016: St. Oswald, 2017: Zechneralm, 2018: Grubenbaueralm and Ebene Reichenau, 2019: Döbriach and Laufenberg, 2020: Grubenalm and Kirchheimer Wolitzenalm) about 45 experts were present and usually about 1000 species were documented, among them numerous characteristic and characterising species of the Nockberge as well as some first records. As very year, also in 2020 the respective results will be published as a special volume in the Carinthia magazine.
Paradigm shift in World Heritage Sites management? Mid-term evaluation of the World Heritage Leadership Programme
In collaboration with Susanne Pecher Consutling E.C.O. has been commissioned to carry out the mid-term review of the World Heritage Leadership Programme, initiated by IUCN and ICCROM. This includes a thorough document analysis, several workshops and key informant interviews with all institutions and experts involved in the Programme. The results of the evaluation serve the main donor of the Programme, the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, and the Programme Management as recommendations for the improvement of the Programme for the remaining period and to stimulate the discussion of a potential follow-up phase..
In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), launched the World Heritage Leadership Programme (2016-2022) as an ambitious Capacity Building Programme for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. .
In close cooperation with all Advisory Bodies of UNESCO and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the Programme seeks to introduce a paradigm shift in the management of World Heritage Sites. It focuses on the promotion of a holistic management equally considering natural and cultural values as well as an increased involvement of communities. The Programme includes a wide range of activities such as trainings around the globe, the updating and development of guidance documents and manuals as well as the strengthening of a global network.
Support of the research cooperation Science_Linknockberge
Science_Linknockberge is a cooperation between the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, the Institute of Instructional and School Development of the Alpen-Adria-University of Klagenfurt and the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Kärntner Nockberge. The collaboration is based on the research, education, conservation and development mission of Biosphere Reserves and aims to encourage students to conduct their research in the region. E.C.O. takes over the professional and technical supervision of the cooperation. The core tasks are to support students with professional questions in the context of their theses, to adapt the questionnaire for research questions and support research workshops in and around the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Kärntner Nockberge.
CLEANSTONE – Recycling and upgrading of stone processing waste for environmental sustainability
The aim of CLEANSTONE is to improve environmental protection and resource efficiency in the stone industry. E.C.O. is significantly involved in the development of guidelines for the definition of criteria for the assessment of environmental impacts as well as for the quality assurance of innovative processes, which enable an optimized recovery of usable secondary raw materials from slurries and quarry plates of various stone types were delivered.With the L.B.I. (Long-Term Biodiversity Index) E.C.O. tests and promotes sustainable development within several quarries in Italy and Austria.
Development of integrated land-use plans for sustainable agriculture and regional development in Georgia
Land resources are the foundation for food security, sustainable livelihoods and economic growth in Georgia. Achieving the global vision of zero net loss of healthy and productive land requires actions measures on the ground. Georgia is one of 100 countries com¬mitted to define national LDN targets and an implementation strategy. The project “Generating Economic and Environmental Benefits from Sustainable Land Management for Vulnerable Rural Communities of Georgia” financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) aims to develop new sustainable land management (SLM) systems at both the commune and farmer plot level that integrate climate-smart agricultural production, food security and resilience and thereby contribute to Georgia’s objectives for Land Degradation Neutrality.
E.C.O. is commissioned to prepare four integrated land-use plans for sustainable agriculture and rural development and to support the elaboration of at least 16 pilot project proposals on land restoration and SLM practices to meet sustainable and green agriculture in the municipalities of Gori, Kareli, Kvareli and Sagarejo (each 1000-2500km2).
Optimisation of approval procedures
Aspects of nature conservation and environmental protection are playing an increasingly important role in approval procedures. Many of the procedures (e.g. environmental impact assessments, nature impact assessments, nature conservation permits, etc.) are complex and require a great deal of effort on the part of both applicants and authorities. In a project initiated and financed by the Carinthian Economic Promotion Fund (KWF), representatives of the business community (Federation of Austrian Industry, Chamber of Commerce) and authorities (Provincial Government of Carinthia) are jointly developing recommendations for possibly effective procedures. The recommendations are based on a joint analysis of good and less good examples from the past.
The results of the project were presented in a ‚Guideline for Approval Procedures‘ and in an in-depth ‚Toolbox for Nature Conservation Procedures‘. In future, these documents provide applicants with a quick overview and the best possible preparation for the approval procedure.
Applicants find therein information on key factors for succesful approval procedures regarding planning and preparation, communication and consulting opportunities.
From the very beginning, E.C.O. contributed its expertise to this project which was initiated and financed by the Kärntner Wirtschaftsförderungs Fonds (KWF).
E.C.O. in numbers