02 Aug. 2023 · Experience nature consciously

The "guardians" of nature? Rangers in action for a conscious experience of nature

If you are out and about in Kleinwalsertal's nature, you may have already encountered them. The Natur bewusst erleben rangers are on their way in Kleinwalsertal to provide information about respectful interaction with nature and each other.

It's the winter of 2020/2021. Lockdown. The cable cars in Kleinwalsertal are standing still.

Those who nevertheless didn't want to miss out on winter sports this year had to become their own ascenders. So the snowshoes were taken off the shelf, the skins were stuck on the skis or the cross-country skis were taken out of the cellar. The main thing was to get out into nature and fresh air. Snow was rather scarce in most lower-lying areas in the winter of 2020, and you couldn't cross the border into the rest of Austria. And so many people were drawn to the mountains of the Kleinwalsertal. Very many people.

On some weekends, hardly a slope remained untracked and hardly a peak unclimbed. "Many people had a great need to find recreation in nature during the pandemic. This was felt in Kleinwalsertal by the increasing number of winter sports enthusiasts," reports Natur bewusst erleben-ranger Daniel Riedel.

Information boards in Kleinwalsertal | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Basti Heckl

Raising awareness: Gently directing visitors

Well, this was a special situation. In addition, Kleinwalsertal is known for its hospitality and is always happy to welcome its visitors. But equally important is mindfulness for nature and its inhabitants. And so this winter also had something good: it showed the need to guide the flow of visitors and to protect the sensitive natural area.

To guide visitors, information boards were set up at the entrances to side valleys and natural areas as part of the initiative Natur bewusst erleben (Experience Nature Consciously). These point out to active vacationers in summer and winter which areas are designated as protected and sanctuary areas and provide useful tips for proper behavior in the mountains. About how we respectfully deal with nature, but also consciously with each other. How we can experience widely. This concerns the right tour planning, four-legged friends, but also the visit to the nature toilet. You can find the entire code of conduct here.

Natur bewusst erleben - Ranger im Kleinwalsertal | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus | Photographer: Basti Heckl

Meet a Ranger: Experience Nature Consciously

One goal of Natur bewusst erleben is to raise awareness of the value of nature. In order to make this even more tangible for visitors and residents, a team of five rangers has been trained who can be found at peak times in the respective sub-areas of the Kleinwalsertal valley.

They enter into dialogue with outdoor enthusiasts. Because only through conscious action can we all contribute to the nature to. Natur bewusst erleben ranger Daniel Riedel describes their task as "educating and appealing to personal responsibility."

Especially in winter, when animals and nature are in particular need of protection, the ranger team is on hand to advise athletes and recreationists. Is the planned tour passable? Where are the protected areas? How can I have them displayed in Outdooractive and other online maps? The rangers can answer all these questions with their in-depth knowledge of the natural area.

Promoting nature awareness all year round

The rangers are not only out and about in winter. Also in summer you can meet them at different places in Kleinwalsertal. They explain alpine dangers, give tips and advice for the descent and the correct self-assessment or even the correct handling of alpine cattle. The five rangers are usually on the road at peak times at the entry points and parking lots. On several dates in summer, they also provide information at info points on topics such as "Forest & Game" or "Safety in the Mountains". Feel free to ask them questions about your tours or about the right behavior on your next hike - you will recognize them by their jackets with the Natur bewusst erleben-logo.

Jackets of the rangers | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Basti Heckl

Let nature be nature.

The tasks of the rangers are even more complex. They are out and about in nature and not only talk to visitors, but also mediate between hunters, farmers, hut managers and landowners. They collect feedback and tips and bring them into the Natur bewusst erleben-network. A network that promotes a sensitive approach to nature and to each other. Gives nature more weight and hearing. Recognizes where we need to look in the future.

"I think this approach is so nice because it gives us an initiative to create spaces. Spaces for great experiences in the Kleinwalsertal mountains, but also spaces where we let nature, be nature." - Daniel Riedel

Hiking Kanzelwand Gehrenspitze | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Bastian Morell

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