Nature protection and biodiversity - 2020 Outlook

What is the 2020 outlook?

Land use changes

 

Although the environment is generally regarded as important in Austria, species and habitat diversity is still under threat, whether from more intensive and new forms of use or from discontinued use. Reforestation in the Alps, for instance, is having just as negative an effect on species diversity as is the increase in land sealing in towns and cities (Borsdorf 2005).

 

Agriculture which encourages sustainable development will come under increasing pressure in future from the conditions created by the need to be more competitive. For example, compulsory set-aside, which was introduced by the EU in 1992, was suspended in 2008 because of the boom in demand and finally abandoned altogether. Experts think that this will affect biological diversity in future, since many species in cultivated landscapes are heavily dependent on fallow land. The huge increase in the demand for land, for the production of biofuels, for instance, makes it unlikely that sufficient fallow areas will remain.

 

Climate change

 

Climate change will further alter biodiversity in central Europe. Global warming may cause a shift in the regions where species occur and even the disappearance of cold-loving species, such as certain fish, for example. In Austria, Alpine species are expected to come under increasing threat. On all mountain peaks surveyed in Austria there has been an increase in species (Fiala 2009a). Species which occur sporadically have been particularly badly affected by climate change.

Figure 4: Change in flora on Alpine peaks (Fiala 2009a).