The Munich Section of the German Alpine Club and the Department of Geography at the University of Innsbruck have successfully completed their project “Alpine Sustainability at Huts – ANAH”, which lasted a total of almost two and a half years. This was the first time that the interrelationships of various factors in the management of alpine bases were scientifically investigated with methods for measuring the indicators. The results were presented at a press conference in Munich. Human geographer Jutta Kister is leading the project at the University of Innsbruck.
The ANAH project was funded by the EU programme INTERREG Bavaria – Austria. The Munich section huts Albert-Link-Hütte (Spitzing), Höllentalangerhütte, Reintalangerhütte (both Wetterstein), Taschachhaus (Pitztal) and Watzmannhaus (Berchtesgaden National Park) were studied. The Franz Senn Hut (Stubai) of the Innsbruck section of the Austrian Alpine Club (ÖAV), which was originally also involved, could not be included in the final investigations due to a major mudslide near the hut. The ANAH project was the first to scientifically investigate the interrelationships of various factors in the management of Alpine huts in the Bavarian and Tyrolean Alpine regions according to aspects of sustainability in the field of tension between mountain sports and the natural environment. ANAH was carried out as an integrative sustainability concept that examines the building infrastructure, hut management and mountaineers from an ecological, economic and social perspective.
Guidelines with incentives for huts
From mid-2022, the results will be published in the form of a guideline that will provide Alpine Club huts in particular – but also other catering and hostel businesses – with incentives, ideas and recommendations for more sustainable operation. Through ANAH, a clear picture could be gained of where and how future measures need to start, as Jutta Kister, ANAH project manager at the Department of Geography at the University of Innsbruck, explains: “Important findings from the surveys at the selected huts are, on the one hand, that the set of indicators developed can be applied locally and, on the other hand, to see which topics are already being worked on intensively at the huts and which topics are still being given too little attention.” Martin Coy, head of the working group for development and sustainability research at the Department of Geography, also emphasises the importance of practical applicability: “For our department, not only the topic of sustainability is very important, but it is also very important for us to work together with practitioners. In this respect, the ANAH project in cooperation with the Munich Section and of course also with the mountain hut managers is an important project, which in turn has made it clear that science-practice dialogues are beneficial for both sides and can show us a good way into the future.” The results of this project can therefore be of interest to mountain huts in the Alpine region in general and provide valuable incentives: “Making a stay in the mountains as sustainable as possible is what we are providing the tools for. And we do this for all mountain sports enthusiasts, hut tenants, all sections of the German Alpine Club and all other interested stakeholders,” says Roman Ossner, ANAH project manager at the Munich Section of the German Alpine Club. Thomas Urban, Managing Director of the Munich Section, sees similar potential: “The results will benefit all sections of the DAV. Furthermore, they will be incorporated into the various sustainability and climate strategies of the DAV Federal Association, which are currently being implemented. As the largest section of the DAV, we are fulfilling our role and significantly driving progress in terms of sustainable management of Alpine Club huts.”
Comprehensive view of hut management
ANAH developed its own sustainability monitoring system, which makes a total of 16 ecological, economic and social goals measurable. Using six different measurement methods, it was thus possible to define and describe over 150 specific measures, from which detailed tasks were derived.
- In the area of building infrastructure, these include the conversion to a completely self-sufficient energy supply, the conversion of lighting to dimmable light fixtures, the permanent deactivation of outdoor lighting outside of usage times or the installation of flow limiters for taps and showers.
- Comparable tasks in the area of cottage operations are, for example, CO2 reduction in food transport by switching to regional suppliers, forming purchasing cooperatives with neighbouring businesses, purchasing in larger quantities or avoiding non-seasonal fruits and vegetables. Another approach is to take sustainable criteria into account when procuring food, for example meat from extensive farming and the increased offer of vegetarian and vegan dishes. The creation of sensible storage and transport capacities as well as measures to avoid food waste also ensure increased sustainability.
- Mountain sports enthusiasts who visit Alpine Club huts can primarily save emissions in the area of mobility. Incentives can be given, for example, through discounts on accommodation prices for public travel, the rental of mountain sports equipment at the huts, organised group tours with public travel, improved public transport communication or the establishment of car-sharing services via the DAV.