The National Park
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the world's oldest and largest global environmental network with more than 80 states, 110 IGOs, 800 NGOs (non-profit organizations) member organizations and almost 10.000 experts in 181 countries. Its mission is to support societies throughout the world in their efforts to protect nature and conserve its biodiversity, and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable. However, its decisions are only recommendations and are not binding.
One of the IUCN's initiatives is a Programme on Protected Areas. On behalf of the UN and together with UNEP-WCMC, the World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme, the IUCN is administering a list of protected areas containing more than 100.000 areas of various categories. The IUCN identified six categories of protected areas (10 in the past). The most frequently mentioned category is II - National Parks, into which the National Park Thayatal was also included.
The World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) supports with its experts the protected areas initiatives of the IUCN. One of its priorities is the management of protected area categories. The team of experts of the WCPA comprises eight Austrians, among which Director Robert Brunner and Barbara Guggenberger from the National Park Thayatal.
Read more under www.iucn.org/wcpa and www.unep-wcmc.org
Natura Network Initiative
Natura 2000 is an ambitious programme for the protection of species and natural habitats of particular importance. Such initiatives often develop through the cooperation and problem-sharing with other protected areas. Eurosite, Europarc and the European Union of Landowners set up the Natura Network Initiative with the support of the European Union.
See also www.natura.org
The European Green BeltIn the area where the "Iron Curtain” constituted the most divisive barrier in history, nature has been able to develop freely for 40 years. Under the patronage of Mikhail Gorbatschow a connecting belt of live biodiversity should be created.
This initiative was started in 1989 by brave nature conservationists in the former German Democratic Republic and in Western Germany. The ambitious goal bonds together many partners from East and West who want to invest all their energy in this longest biotope belt in the world. This energy will indeed be needed in order to maintain a band, longer than the Great Wall of China, with all its special habitats across 22 countries.
Current information re. Austria can be found under www.gruenesband.at (German only) and on the IUCN website www.europeangreenbelt.org (English).
National Parks AustriaThe umbrella brand name National Parks Austria covers six Austrian national parks: Donau-Auen, Gesäuse, Hohe Tauern, Kalkalpen, Neusiedlersee-Seewinkel and Thayatal. The Ministry of Environment is the coordinator and initiator of common activities of the National Parks Austria.
More under www.nationalparks.at (German only)
Vielfaltleben (diversity of life)
Austria has taken an important responsibility towards the conservation of the diverse habitats and the large amount of fauna and flora living in them. The biodiversity campaign of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, vielfaltleben (diversity of life), promotes the conservation of biodiversity. The loss of biodiversity, which has now reached dramatic global proportions, can only be reduced through fast action.
More information under www.vielfaltleben.at (in German only)
Národní Park PodyjíThe National Park Podyjí was established in 1991 on the Czech side. Since 1999 both national parks have been working together to achieve the best possible protection of this natural habitat as well as a joint implementation of objectives.
However, one thing could not be achieved yet: a common homepage for both parks. But the future is full of promises.