Renaturation

Conservationists warn: Implement new EU law

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10.07.2024 17:10

Politicians must not play off environmental protection and the energy transition against each other, warned conservationists in Graz on Wednesday: Implement renaturation law quickly!

It's 32 degrees, even in the greenest parts of the city of Graz, even directly on the Mur. "We are all feeling the effects of climate change. Not the biodiversity crisis", says Norbert Hafner, Chairman of the Alpine Association. Several NGOs gathered on Wednesday to discuss the consequences of the renaturation law that has been passed. The basic message from conservationists: "Climate protection cannot work without nature conservation," says Franz Maier, President of the Environmental Umbrella Organization.

People think of cars, airplanes and meat consumption, but almost a quarter of global CO2 emissions come from destroyed ecosystems. Areas such as moors or wetlands store carbon dioxide - if they are built on or drained, it escapes.

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There is little respect for the value of nature. It can only be preserved with restoration measures.

Umweltanwältin Ute Pöllinger (Bild: Pail Sepp)

Umweltanwältin Ute Pöllinger

Expropriation is not an issue
Conservationists also agree that the EU Restoration Act will provide a strong tailwind for their projects. "This does not mean that there will be expropriations and less land for growing food," says Karin Hochegger, Regional Head of the Ennstal-Ausseerland Nature Conservation Association.

"Over 90 moors in Ausseerland belong to the federal forests," she says, as do 61,000 hectares of forest - a lot can be achieved there by avoiding monocultures, for example. The Nature Conservation Association itself buys land and protects it in this way.

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The limits of the ecologically justifiable expansion of hydropower have been reached. Nature is being sacrificed for short-term profit.

Karin Hochegger, Naturschutzbund

Don't play off the energy transition and the environment
At the same time, Hochegger and Styrian environmental lawyer Ute Pöllinger also note: "All unnecessary transverse structures (these are impassable steps that are not necessary for safety, note) can and should be demolished." Many smaller, old hydropower plants, for example, have hardly any yield but have a massive impact on the ecology of a river.

The women urgently warn against any new construction project that impedes the natural course of a river - for example on the Mur north of Graz or on the upper Enns, as we have reported. "Only 17 percent of the river courses in Austria are still intact," warns Hochegger. "Politicians should not fuel the conflict between the energy transition and nature!"

This article has been automatically translated,
read the original article here.

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