Your Steps Towards Ecological Connectivity The GreenAlps Project

The Alpine environment provides for fundamental and high-quality ecosystem services, which bring enormous benefits to the human society, only if the connections between the different habitats are established and maintained.

The Work Package 4 of the GreenAlps project investigated what local stakeholder, experts and people know about ecological connectivity and ecosystem services and their involvement in past European projects. Workshop participants’ experts pointed at ecological connectivity as a solution for the main threats of local development: landscape fragmentation, the loss of local identity, the promotion of local economy and tourism. Yet non-experts and the large public poorly understand the concept of connectivity and the concrete application of this vision in the real world; it would mean to find a way to manage all the environmental, social and economic conflicts that move around this issue. In an attempt to simplify the connectivity concept, GreenAlps developed an infographic poster showing symbolically how connectivity is at the heart of the interactions between humans and the rest of nature in a territory. The poster wants to use a touching approach, painting a “human-nature-being” to bring the spectator into a journey in the possible feelings experienced by wildlife species when facing any kind of barrier that impedes their free movements. Life is movement and without this freedom, it undergoes the process of decaying. Only through the stimulation of empathy of humans towards the environment and the wildlife populations, taking personal responsibility for the sake of nature and of human health itself, we may understand the damages humans are causing to nature and therefore, to themselves.

Starting from the head, the poster invites the reader to open the mind to a new contact with nature, seeing ecological connectivity as a new opportunity, especially for humans. From the neck, down to the legs, how would you feel if something, out of your control, would impede your will to move freely? We are used to have no barriers in our environment and rarely think that wildlife species have the same right as we have to live on this planet. The best way to reach this goal is to stimulate the audience to the feeling of stagnation in an environment transformed by someone else for their own selfish needs. Giving some information on the European Green Belt initiative and on the potentials of Green Infrastructures, the audience is driven to a simple, but still ununderstood, truth: humans and wildlife share the same need – free movement for a working brain and a healthy life.

The project GreenAlps has proved that ecological connectivity is still unknown to the most and that it is actually a new opportunity to see the world around us, because it holds a vision capable of joining nature protection with regional development, but only if experts, local people and stakeholder work together in a public participation process. Is it possible to imagine a world where humans and wildlife species live in harmony?

If you also wish for that, what can YOU do for ecological connectivity?

Ecological Connectivity, Ecosystem Services, human-nature, empathy