A fantastic idea has at last become a reality: with RINGANA as its first participating company, the newly-founded Klimapartnerschaft.at (Climate Partnership) can finally start operations. The project entails returning 138.9 hectares to nature. To ensure that the initiative is on a solid technical footing, some strong partners have already been brought on board such as Austrian Federal Forests (ÖBf), the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna (BoKu) and the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development (HNEE). The aim is to promote biodiversity, slow down climate change, and to set a new standard for climate conservation. This is a further step for the Styrian fresh skin care and food supplement manufacturer in completing its sustainability mosaic. It is also hoped that other medium-sized businesses can be motivated to join this partnership.
More than 99 per cent of Austria’s entire forest area is subject to human interventions. Scientists are largely in agreement that to achieve successful environmental conservation, the few existing primeval and natural forests must be preserved, and nature reserves expanded. “They are an important gene pool and a sanctuary for European biodiversity. However, considered over the long term, the nature reserve areas are to small to compensate for species extinction. It will therefore also be necessary to take cultivated areas into consideration with regard to nature conservation,” emphasises Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Pierre Ibisch, from the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development. That is exactly what RINGANA is doing as part of its climate partnership, together with scientists, Austrian Federal Forests and the Wilderness Area. This Styria-based medium-sized company is convinced that action needs to be taken – and now. Because even if Austria is one of the most species-rich countries in Europe, those species are rapidly declining, demonstrating how important it is to act immediately.
“Losses such as a 40 per cent decline in vertebrates over the last 30 years, and the direct threat to around 50 per cent of mammals and breeding birds, almost 100 per cent of reptiles, and large sections of the insect populations speak for themselves,” says Prof. Dr. Georg Gratzer from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna Institute of Forest Ecology. As the biggest landowner, the ÖBf AG (Austrian Federal Forests) has been working closely with the Dürrenstein-Lassingtal Wilderness Area from the start. Apart from contributing technical know-how, it also provides suitable areas for additional nature conservation projects. “We are delighted to be part of this climate partnership which represents a further important building block for greater biodiversity protection in the region,” says Stefan Schörghuber, head of the Forest-Natural Space-Sustainability Unit of Austrian Federal Forests.
One of RINGANA’s reasons for initiating this partnership is to create awareness of how companies can take responsibility for a livable future. RINGANA is providing the funding to remove an area of 138.9 hectares directly adjoining the Wilderness Area from use over the long term. This will enable the usage pressure on the ecosystem to be reduced, and allow the primeval forest to develop its particular abilities. An ecosystem that is made increasingly stable in this way can better defend itself against climate change. The natural forest that will be created will also be exceptionally good at removing CO2 from the atmosphere. This is a result that RINGANA will be able to factor into its CO2 balance as part of its sustainability strategy.
Why choose the Dürrenstein-Lassingtal Wilderness Area?
“Emissions of harmful greenhouse gases do not only have to be avoided as much as possible. Within the scope of our sustainability strategy, we already strive every day to improve in this area. But those gases must also be removed from the already overloaded atmosphere. Natural forests can safely store them over the long term, with a resulting positive effect on the climate.”
“That is precisely why we have established this climate partnership with the Wilderness Area and our strong partners,” says Ulla Wannemacher, General Manager and co-founder of RINGANA, explaining the reasons behind the project. The Styrian medium-sized company consciously chose to partner with the Wilderness Area. Just as the company intends to grow economically over the long term, it also sets long-term benchmarks for the success of its sustainability activities.
Against this backdrop, the last primeval forest in the foothills of the Alps plays a particularly important role. Framework conditions have been developed – far more stringent than the current market standard – aimed at targeted, long-term climate conservation and biodiversity protection.
“There are already some projects in place. But none of those convinced us in terms of their effectiveness or transparency. What has always been crucial for us is to find a way of effectively combatting the climate crisis. We don’t just want to “be a part”, but also want to ensure that we are excellent here as well. This climate partnership is our next great milestone – it’s an enormous effort for us, but one in which we are glad to make a long-term investment,” stresses Andreas Wilfinger, CEO RINGANA.
“Naturally, I am delighted about every new tree that is planted. But our existing tree stock is several hundred years old in places – a veritable turbo when it comes to CO2 emissions and preserving biodiversity. I am therefore all the more pleased that with the climate partnership we will be able to take further valuable forest areas out of use, and we will be supported in our work. What pleases me most, however, is that RINGANA wants to create awareness of this special project. I would expressly welcome it if this signal is recognised by other businesses, including medium-sized ones. Every hectare counts,” says Nina Schönemann, wildlife biologist at the Dürrenstein-Lassingtal Wilderness Area and Managing Director of Klimapartnerschaft.at
Summary of the key points of the climate partnership:
1. Greater biodiversity. As a climate partner, RINGANA is providing significant funding which will allow an area of 138.9 hectares around the last primeval forest in the Alps to be removed from use over the long term, and returned to nature.
2. Climate conservation. Emissions from harmful greenhouse gases must not only be avoided as far as possible and reduced, but must also be removed from the already overloaded atmosphere. Specially protected natural forests can ensure the storage of those gases over the long term, with a corresponding positive effect on the climate. The climate-affecting added value of the forest area which RINGANA has allowed to be removed from use will be factored in as part of its CO2 offsetting within the scope of the company’s climate strategy.
3. New standard. Framework conditions – far more stringent than those currently used in the market – have been developed to achieve targeted and long-term climate conservation and biodiversity protection. The aim here is to establish the necessary climate conservation requirements.
With this climate partnership, RINGANA is making a long-term investment and will send out a signal to other medium-sized companies to get involved. Because only long-term, concerted action is effective.