Development of ecosystem-based risk governance concepts with respect to natural hazards and climate impacts – from ecosystem-based solutions tointegrated risk assessment.


Mountain forest ecosystems have a key role for reducing natural hazard risks in the Alpine Space. They can protect against snow avalanches, landslides, rockfall or torrential hazards; however, few strategies or policy concepts have been developed on how to integrate forests and the ecosystem services they provide in risk governance. Therefore, GreenRisk4ALPs developed methods and decision support tools to foster an ecosystem-based integrated risk management of natural hazards and climate change impacts by focusing on protective forests as effective, cost-efficient, and long-term risk mitigation measure. The 12 project partner institutions from five Alpine Space countries developed new tools and methods as well as recommendations for practitioners and policy makers to contribute to a sustainable Alpine risk management.


  • 2014 – 2020
  • Liveable
  • Enhance the protection, the conservation and the ecological connectivity of Alpine Space ecosystems
    • Group 8: To improve risk management and to better manage climate change, including major natural risks prevention
  • 04/2018
  • 08/2021
  • 2.421.337 EUR
  • 2.050.711 EUR


Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape Austria (Lead partner)
  • Lead partner
  • Austria
  • Tirol
  • Innsbruck
    Austrian Service for Torrent and Avalanche Control
    • Austria
    • Tirol
    • Innsbruck
        Forestry company Franz Mayr-Melnhof-Saurau
        • Austria
        • Steiermark
        • Frohnleiten
            National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment
            • France
            • Rhône-Alpes
            • Villeurbanne
                European Academy of Bozen-Bolzano – EURAC Research
                • Italy
                • Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano/Bozen
                • Bolzano
                    Safe Mountain Foundation
                    • Italy
                    • Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste
                    • Courmayeur
                        Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, University of Turin
                        • Italy
                        • Piemonte
                        • GRUGLIASCO
                            Slovenian Forest Service
                            • Slovenia
                            • Zahodna Slovenia
                            • Ljubljana
                                University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty, Department for Forestry and Renewable Resources
                                • Slovenia
                                • Zahodna Slovenia
                                • Ljubljana
                                    Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
                                    • Switzerland
                                    • Zürich
                                    • Birmensdorf
                                        University of Göttingen
                                        • Germany
                                        • Schwaben
                                        • Göttingen
                                            Bavarian State Institute of Forestry
                                            • Germany
                                            • Oberbayern
                                            • Freising
                                                • 47.268863511.3948986
                                                • 47.265713811.3974397
                                                • 47.26547220000000515.322183491438523
                                                • 45.77335734.8868454
                                                • 46.494530211.3472734
                                                • 45.78742486.9730618
                                                • 45.0680467.57762
                                                • 46.052666214.480088002780466
                                                • 46.04898975000000414.503956692895823
                                                • 47.3604432000000068.455244384036696
                                                • 51.55837579.9560718
                                                • 48.3994440511.716943743980217


                                                • Protective forest definition matrix

                                                  Terms associated with protection or protective forests, protective functions and protective effects are used inconsistently throughout the Alpine Space, which originates from country-specific forestry regulations.
                                                  The proposed “Protective forest definition matrix” combines and structures definitions from existing national forest legislations to support a clear communication among scientists, engineers, stakeholders and with the public regarding protective forests in mountain areas.

                                                • Flow-Py: routing and stopping of gravitational mass flows

                                                  The open-source simulation tool Flow-Py was developed and applied in GreenRisk4ALPs to identify forests with a direct object protective function for snow avalanches, rockfall and shallow landslides.
                                                  Flow-Py employs a data-based runout angle modeling approach to identify process areas and corresponding intensities of gravitational mass flows by combining models for routing and stopping, which depend on local terrain and prior movement. The only required input data are a digital elevation model, the positions of starting zones and a minimum of four model parameters. The model equations are implemented via the Python computer language allowing users to address specific questions by keeping the parameterization flexible and the ability to include custom model extensions. Information on model equations, performance, and modularity of Flow-Py can be found in: D’Amboise, C. J. L., Neuhauser, M., Teich, M., Huber, A., Kofler, A., Perzl, F., Fromm, R., Kleemayr, K., and Fischer, J.-T. (2022). Flow-Py v1.0: A customizable, open-source simulation tool to estimate runout and intensity of gravitational mass flows. Geosci. Model Dev., 15, 2423–2439.

                                                • Protective Forest Assessment Tool (FAT) - a new decision support tool for ecosystem-based and integrated risk management

                                                  FAT is an innovative decision support tool that offers user-tailored support for practitioners involved in natural hazard risk management in form of an interactive web platform.
                                                  FAT’s overarching goal is to estimate the value mountain forest has for protecting buildings and infrastructure against gravitational natural hazards such as snow avalanches, rockfall and shallow landslides. This is achieved with a model chain consisting of a gravitational mass flow model that is connected to a risk assessment and economic model to assess the protective effect of a forest along a natural hazard process path/profile and to compare it to alternative mitigation measures determining the best risk reduction measures in terms of cost-benefit ratio. FAT is freely available through a web interface, which enables users to perform an ad hoc risk analysis by uploading and entering input data, running the model chain, and viewing the results in a user-friendly way. The web platform was designed for different user groups such as local and regional public authorities and other decision makers working in the field of natural hazard risk management.

                                                • New approaches for decision-oriented risk assessment and management

                                                  One objective of GreenRisk4ALPs was to introduce an innovative ecosystem-based risk mitigation concept.
                                                  Therefore, 1) the new risk assessment procedure TEGRAV (TEchnical, GReen, AVoidance), integrating costs and protective effects of the main mitigation types (technical, ecosystem-based and avoidance) and damage potentials, 2) an approach to identify exposure hotspots for gravitational hazards by integrating forest relevance at a regional scale, as well as 3) the Rapid Risk management Appraisal (RRA), a participatory approach to analyze risk management practices in a specific region were developed. For more information on the approaches please consult the book “Protective Forests as Ecosystem-based Solution for Disaster Risk Reduction”.

                                                • Road map for a multiple actor and decision targeted information process

                                                  This Road Map explains how scientific information can effectively be used by practitioners in their daily work and includes a checklist leading through the process of tailoring research results to support an integrated and ecosystem-based natural hazard risk management.
                                                  The Road Map is based on the RIU (Research Integration Utilization) model for knowledge transfer and was also published as one chapter in our "Protective forests as Ecosystem-based solution for Disaster Risk Reduction (ECO-DRR)" book. A similar Road Map was developed from the scientist’s perspective and published in the report “Road Map for decision targeted communication of green risk management” explaining how to engage practitioners and to motivate them to consider scientific results.

                                                • Protective forest book on ecosystem-based natural hazard risk management (1/2)

                                                  Protective Forests as Ecosystem-based Solution for Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR) Editors: Michaela Teich, Cristian Accastello, Frank Perzl, Karl Kleemayr
                                                  This book summarizes the state-of-the-art knowledge and introduces methods and decision support tools to facilitate the use of protective forests for Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR) as part of an integrated risk management in the Alpine Space. Moreover, it highlights how transferring scientific knowledge into practice can only be achieved by an active and iterative exchange with practitioners and policy makers and a common understanding of applied concepts and definitions to manage protective forests sustainably under constantly changing climate and socio-economic conditions.

                                                • Protective forest book on ecosystem-based natural hazard risk management (2/2)

                                                  Best Practice Examples of Implementing Ecosystem-Based Natural Hazard Risk Management in the GreenRisk4ALPs Pilot Action Regions Editors: Jurij Beguš, Frédéric Berger and Karl Kleemayr
                                                  One of the best ways to improve collective knowledge and practice is through sharing experiences and knowledge between different stakeholders. The idea for this book followed such an approach. The monograph presents six best practice examples from the six Pilot Action Regions (PAR) of the GreenRisk4ALPs project and is primarily intended for forestry experts, decision-makers at all levels of decision-making and other professionals.

                                                • Virtual Proceedings of the GreenRisk4ALPs Mountain Forest Conference

                                                  Moving forward together at managing our mountain forests sustainably as an effective protection measure against natural hazards, we invited scientists, practitioners, policy makers and the public to learn, to connect, and to discuss online one and a half days in June 2021.