MMCA/EPA: For Forest. Science meets art. Art meets science.

by Selina Treffner

Hanns Kirchmeir gives a lecture at the Klagenfurt stadium on forest in climate change.

"A forest in a football stadium! The installation by the Swiss artist Klaus Littmann here in Klagenfurt has triggered many discussions," says Dr. Hanns Kirchmeir of E.C.O. Institute for Ecology on the occasion of a lecture. For more than 20 years Kirchmeir has been working scientifically on "Forest in Climate Change" (link to the book). At the invitation of Klaus Littmann, he presents his results and theses to an interested audience. The venue is the stadium's VIP lounge with a perfect view of the art intervention. "With this metaphor we see the forest moved into the centre of public interest. In our national and international projects, we are confronted every day with questions about sustainable forest management and protected forest areas". The team around Hanns Kirchmeir supports, among other things, the development of a UNESCO World Heritage European beech forest, which is to comprise primeval forests from 21 European states.

"Europe's forests provide far-reaching ecosystem services," explains Hanns Kirchmeir. The illustrated sheet he presents is a vivid journey through the various forest locations of the European continent. In view of climate change, intact forests have an enormous significance for society; at the same time, forests suffer from the consequences of climate change. "It is about which tree species we are now planting or allowing, so that the forest will still be a forest a hundred years from now," Kirchmeir says.

Klaus Littmann's art installation has attracted worldwide attention. It goes back to a drawing by Max Peintner. The Austrian architect and painter had drawn a forest in a football stadium in 1970. This at a time when nature conservation history was being written with the Ramsar Convention, the World Heritage Convention, the United Nations Environment Programme and the development of UNESCO biosphere reserves. The fact that "For Forest" is taking place in Klagenfurt, of all places, is due to chance. Nevertheless, the place is full of connections, as the European Parks Academy of the World Commission on Protected Areas, the master programme "Management of Conservation Areas" of the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences and other training courses for "Nature Conservation in the 21st Century" take place here.

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