VERBUND and Hohe Tauern National Park found Climate School


Austria's leading electricity company and the largest national park in Central Europe are jointly taking new paths in awareness raising for climate, energy and climate protection.

VERBUND and Hohe Tauern National Park are immediate neighbours in Carinthia, Salzburg and Tyrol. VERBUND generates clean electricity in its hydropower plants at the front of the national park. As one of the most pressing challenges of current times, the aim is to jointly promote awareness for the climate and climate protection. In the "VERBUND Climate School of Hohe Tauern National Park", the founding treaty of which was signed today, children are to be made aware of what everyone can do for climate protection in daily life and of the far-reaching consequences that this can have on the environment.

The climate school is planned as a mobile school and is initially targeting its services at the schools of the national park’s local authorities. In further steps, it is intended that the schools of the three national park federal provinces of Carinthia, Salzburg and Tyrol will be included. Serving as teachers are specially trained national park rangers, who provide school children from the fourth through to the tenth grade with an understanding of the interactions between the climate, energy and climate protection. It is intended that the tuition in the climate school will have the character of project weeks. Diversity of methods and a multidisciplinary approach are to ensure that the budding climate conservationists are able to see, hear, smell and touch the subject.
The "VERBUND Climate School of Hohe Tauern National Park" will be opened in Mallnitzer Seebachtal on 19 June 2010 by Federal President Heinz Fischer and Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Nikolaus Berlakovich.

Association of Friends of the Hohe Tauern National Park as project partner
Since 1993, the Association of Friends of the Hohe Tauern National Park has been supporting projects in the areas of ecology, nature conservation and science/research. In this way the concept of Hohe Tauern National Park is promoted by renowned companies and private individuals, such as e.g. Swarovski, Ja! Natürlich or Stiegl. The president of the Friends of Hohe Tauern National Park, Werner Wutscher, has now also been able to win VERBUND over as partner for this innovative educational program. "It is our goal that the decision-makers of tomorrow develop an understanding of the climatic factors and interactions and are therewith able to make a conscious contribution to climate protection. The exemplary partnership with VERBUND, which is provisionally limited to three years, is an important step in this direction," says Wutscher with conviction.

Electricity from Hydropower is a contribution to climate protection
With its electricity, up to 90 % of which is generated from hydropower, and efficient grids, VERBUND makes an important contribution to climate protection. "Two climate protectors have now come together in the climate school in order to inspire young people for the issue of climate and climate protection. Sustained commitment to nature, the environment and the climate are lived out in practice at VERBUND. Our success shows that we are right. Zones measuring almost 4,000 hectares in the area of VERBUND hydropower plants have been placed under conservation upon power plant construction. In the case of electromobility, we are still at the start and are nevertheless able to point to the first successes. In any case it's initially about raising awareness. I therefore view the climate school’s commitment as a further contribution by VERBUND for a better energy and climate future," says VERBUND CEO Wolfgang Anzengruber, explaining the company's motivation for founding the climate school.

With a hydropower share of 90 % in Europe, VERBUND counts among the companies with the highest proportion of electricity from renewable sources. The accelerated expansion of production capacities in the area of water, but also wind as well, is part of the company strategy. In this way, Austria's household customers are supplied with certified electricity from hydropower.

Hohe Tauern National Park actively involved in climate protection and climate research
In its capacity as the largest national park in Central Europe (more than 1,800 km²) and the oldest national park in Austria, Hohe Tauern National Park has been actively involved in climate protection since its founding in 1981. For decades, glacier experts have been using the area for the purposes of exploration. Furthermore, the biodiversity in the national park is being documented and recorded for coming generations by means of a biodiversity archive. Changes – the disappearance of species or the in-migration of new species on account of the climate change – can be optimally documented in this way. Repatriation projects for missing or highly endangered species (e.g. the bearded vulture, "Urforelle" – a rare trout - etc.), as well as raising the awareness of young people, are equally focal points of the national park. "We are delighted that these issues are also now being openly placed the spotlight in the International Year of Biodiversity, as 2010 has been proclaimed by the United Nations," says Wutscher. On account of many years of experience n the areas of habitat management, science and education, the national park offers the best possible prerequisites to launch this climate school, which should bear fruit far beyond the boundaries of the national park.