The roads and settlements between the Alps and the Carpathian mountains interrupt a traditional route for wildlife. Green landscape bridges and other measures are now maintaining and restoring the Alps-Carpathian Corridor and allowing wildlife to flourish. The mountain ranges of the Alps and the Carpathians, which straddle the border of Austria and Slovakia, are the largest sources of biodiversity in Central Europe. The Alps-Carpathians Corridor between these mountains has historically been a major migration route for wildlife crossing the Danube and has been disrupted by economic development. Pressure on land use in the region located between Vienna and Bratislava is considerable and a solution has been needed to combine ecological requirements with economic activity. As a part of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) the Corridor is being restored to reconnect the eastern reaches of the Alps to the Western Carpathians and to support ecological connectivity and the sustainable development of the whole region.
The project has brought together various institutions, NGOs, universities, as well as highway companies and regional and federal authorities from Austria and Slovakia to create a common cross-border platform facilitating the migration and genetic exchange of wild animal populations. The project, which is among the first projects to be implemented as a part of the EUSDR, is also expected to increase the recreational attractiveness of the region and improve the environmental awareness of the population. The outcome is a joint Austrian-Slovakian Action Plan for the Corridor covering land use, communication, scientific fundamentals, protection and spatial planning. Upon completion of the project, an implementation handbook will be included as reference material for similar future projects. A comprehensive handbook on spatial planning will also be drawn up, which will translate the spatial planning objectives into planning tools for all regional administrations.
A system of ‘Green Bridges‘ is under construction to allow easy passage for wildlife and the first will be constructed in Austria across the A4 Vienna-Budapest motorway. A similar wildlife overpass is being introduced in Slovakia to improve ecological connectivity across the highway from Bratislava to Brno. The Corridor’s structure has created a forum for the managers of these regions to share ideas and develop solutions that can be applied within the entire region, instead of only per protected area. To ensure long-term continuity, key stakeholders are party to a Memorandum of Understanding that can contribute to sustainability in their area of responsibility. In addition, the relevant spatial development plans at regional and federal level will factor in the results and recommendations from this project. The project “Alps-Carpathians Corridor” has a total eligible budget of EUR 1 852 450, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 427 519.