Snowy forest

What is the value of the Woipertouringer Project?

The ‘Netzwerk Naturraum Brixental’ Association would like to thank everyone who participated in this very informative study! Through your assistance we can further improve our service and ensure sustainable and environmentally-friendly use of our habitat for all nature users.

Statistics about ski tours in the brixental valley.
Statistics about ski tours in the brixental valley.

Evaluation of the Woipertouringer Project
On behalf of: Netzwerk Naturraum Brixental Association
A study by Andreas Aschaber M.Sc. and Michaela Rizzolli, B.Sc., University of Innsbruck

A variety of scientific methods have been used to evaluate the project. As a first stage interviews were conducted throughout Tyrol with experts from alpine associations, the nature park administration, the ski association, the public services, hunting and forestry. In the second stage a pilot questionnaire for snowshoe hikers and tourers was developed and circulated at different locations in the Brixental valley region. The pilot questionnaire gave rise to an online questionnaire which was completed by 210 winter sportsmen and women at home and abroad. In the third stage three focus groups were held with representatives of different social groups (hunting and forestry, tourism, municipal administration and associations) from the Brixental valley region.

The results of the evaluation can be summed up as follows: the Woipertouringer Project is predominantly perceived as something positive, as a step in the right direction towards reducing the impact on nature and promoting co-existence between winter sports fans, animals and nature. For just under 90% of respondents familiar with the Woipertouringer Project, the project is a good idea. Only for a minority of 3% of all respondents is Woipertouringer perceived as an attempt to limit ski touring. In the focus groups and expert interviews, the cooperation of the various stakeholders is singled out for special praise.

Woipertouringer has a high degree of familiarity. 47% of respondents state they know the Woipertouringer logo. A third of them were able to name specific measures of the project. The breakdown of the level of awareness by age group shows that around 60% of the 31-50 age group are familiar with the project. The people familiar with the Woipertouringer learned of the project primarily from the information boards at different locations in the Brixental region, printed media and maps such as the Woipertouringer map.

With regard to the effectiveness of the project, it can be said with confidence that 29% of respondents who were familiar with the Woipertouringer stated that they had modified their behaviour because of it. In a further 33%, their behaviour remained unchanged. It became clear from the focus groups that the representatives of different social groups perceived an increasing acceptance of the project among the local population. In their view there has been a change since the Woipertouringer: the majority of the ski tourers are prepared to be guided, will avoid restricted areas, keep to the marked ascent and descent trails and use the provided infrastructure.

Picture of a LVS-Checkpoint.
Picture of a LVS-Checkpoint.

It has also been shown that both the ski tourers and snowshoe hikers, the experts as well as the representatives of different social groups are in favour of increased public relations work. Enlightenment instead of punishment should remain the guiding principle.

Experts point out in the interviews that it is mostly ignorance and not intention that is the root cause of disregarding restricted areas and wildlife retreats. The pilot questionnaire revealed, however, that 74% of the non-resident ski tourers in the Brixental valley are not familiar with the Woipertouringer Project. The respondents state they would like more information about Woipertouringer in printed media, social networks such as Facebook and on the internet.

The need to continue the Woipertouringer Project is emphasised in all focus groups. It has been shown that there is no question of discussing whether project makes sense or not. For the representatives of different social groups it is important to think in specific terms about how it will progress in the future and where it will lead to. The need for the Woipertouringer is justified in all three focus groups by the fact that the trend is increasing: more and more people, in their opinion, are engaged in outdoor activity. This trend, these masses make action unavoidable. For more than 80% of the respondents familiar with Woipertouringer, the project makes an important contribution to environmental protection. The survey makes it clear that winter sports fans want to enjoy the natural world in its unspoilt state and that they regard nature and wildlife as something worth protecting.

Nearly 80% of those questioned familiar with Woipertouringer speak in favour of extending the project to other regions. The focus groups also show that the participants are in favour of expanding the Woipertouringer Project into other areas because they perceive the project as a ‘milestone for Austria'. Woipertouringer should serve as a model and showcase project.

We would like to make all the findings from the project available to the public below: