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Spatial planning plays a key role in adaptation to climate risks. Thereby, a forward-looking and holistic approach to urban and regional development is needed when decision makers in local spatial planning, municipalities and cities attempt to implement effective measures for climate change adaptation. In this context, there is often a lack of adequate data bases as well as specific but also interdisciplinary knowledge for the interpretation of climate data for the concrete planning case. Based on the concrete planning example of a medium-sized city with a central function as a provincial capital (St. Pölten) and with strong development dynamics, the project considers how climate change adaptation can be implemented at the local level, taking into account the supra-local specifications and strategies, especially if the interconnectedness across planning boundaries (such as urban/urban hinterland) is to be included in the decision-making process. Through an actor-based discussion, which data are needed in particular for the assessment of the spatial impact/sensitivity, how the data management can be improved, as well as a more intensive use of the data at different planning levels, concrete requirements for data and their interpretation are defined in order to reduce uncertainties for the legitimacy of planning decisions in the future and to maximize positive synergies of different planning interests. The project directly shows potentials and necessities of the implementation of climate change adaptation measures via planning instruments, provides action and decision support and forces the interdisciplinary exchange between relevant actors. The project results can and should also provide assistance for other communities.

Forests provide multiple services and have various effects on the habitat for humans, animals and plants. The current Austrian Forest Act is based on the principle of multifunctional forestry and specifies the protective, beneficial, recreational and welfare effects of forests. Climate change is increasingly affecting forest stocks and forestry faces major challenges in adapting to climate change. The recreational effect of the forest provides an important service for the general society and tourism. As the forest is undergoing major changes in the course of climate change, partly through active management towards a climate-smart forest, partly through altered natural succession due to changing site conditions (active and passive climate change adaptation), all effects and services of the forest are affected. Various forest monitoring systems map this change. However, to date there is no data collection system in Austria to record the recreational effect of climate-smart forests and to make their change measurable in the future. The aim of this project is to develop a concept for the extension of the Austrian forest monitoring systems to include the recreational effect of the forest and to test it. The result of the project is a coordinated and first-time monitoring system as a basis for future periodic surveys. Within the framework of the project, a nationwide population survey on the recreational effect of forest areas is planned in order to collect attitudes, knowledge, behaviour, perception and relationship of the population to the forest. In addition, expert interviews with landowners will be conducted and combined with the data from the population survey in order to also be able to analyse the view of forest managers on the recreational effect and to identify possible synergies and/or conflicts of interest at an early stage. In the final project phase, the indicators for recording the recreational effect of climate-smart forests will be linked to existing forest monitoring systems in order to collect them regularly in the future.

This project addresses the challenges of a transformative change aiming for a fundamental shift, that questions values and routine practice and changes prior perspective employed to rationalize decisions and pathways. For our research we selected a region in Austria where climate change (e.g. reduced snow cover), land use shifts as well as societal and structural problems all together require a significant change based on holistic analyses and awareness of the interconnected challenges that arise in a social-ecological system. The selected study area is located south of the Ötscher mountain, part of the Ybbstaler Alps in Lower Austria. The case study is expecting a significant shock in the near future and several long-term changes requiring a transition towards resilient, sustainable regional development. Currently, the region’s future perspectives, including land use and local quality of life, are the subject of pessimistic discussions and concerns because a local ski resort, previously funded by the government of Lower Austria, is scheduled to close next year. Based on an extended literature review, we will use the concept of resilience as a framework to address and better understand the complex challenges faced by local communities. In the past, innovative applications in the context of rural resilience have mostly been developed for specific disciplines. Approaches so far have not leveraged integrated regional concepts. Therefore, transdisciplinary solutions are still missing. This proposal will contribute to closing this research gap, and will develop a framework tailored to the application on a regional level. In order to operationalize resilience in an inter- and trans-disciplinary manner, we will apply a conceptual framework combining social-ecological systems (SES) and dynamic adaptive pathways (DAP) in order to show that resilience thinking can provide the basis for an applicable, future-oriented regional development concept. Finally, the application of a representative survey in the region will facilitate the implementation process within the region and contribute to innovative research findings. From a scientific perspective these methodological concept is an innovative contribution and a step beyond the current state of the art. The proposal enhances the participation of the local population within all methodological steps, supports existing local bottom-up approaches, and leads to one main transdisciplinary process.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations