Policies for the environment and rural development in the mountain area of Austria
Conference object, Preprint
- Publisher: Louvain-la-Neuve: European Regional Science Association (ERSA)
38th European Regional Science Association ? Congress 1998 Topic G: Environmental Management, Sustainability and Development Policies for the Environment and Rural Development in the Mountain Area of Austria (Abstract) by Gerhard Hovorka The cultural landscape in Austria is characterised by the high proportion of mountain areas. Mountain agriculture bears the key role in safeguarding the sensitive eco-system in the mountain areas and thereby maintaining the general living and working space as well as the cultural landscape. The study presents and evaluates two approaches corresponding to the demands of an integrated policy for rural areas and the mountain area in particular (the Austrian mountain-farm aid, with the focus on the spatially-oriented sectoral programme "Mountain Farmers Special Programme?, and an integrated regional policy approach). The special feature of the new mountain farm policy was the regional policy approach in agricultural policy, involving the concentration of a whole package of proven and new measures for the consolidation of mountain and border-area farms whose survival was under threat, taking account of agricultural and non-agricultural income as the criterion for aid entitlement. One special innovation was the introduction of mountain farmers' allowance with the objective of a partial compensation for the more difficult conditions of production and the natural disadvantages of the location. The concept of endogenous regional development and the corresponding regional policy approaches of the federal government and the provinces had an essential influence on the further conceptual development of Austrian regional policy. The promotion of ecologically and socially acceptable development, and of a market-niche strategy ? in particular in tourism and agriculture ? through financial subsidies and regional advisory facilities, led to the realisation of numerous innovative pilot projects in the mountain areas. After Austria's accession to the EU, the EU policy for agriculture in the mountain area and the regional policy had to be adopted by Austria (redefinition of the mountain area, EU compensatory allowance-system, agri-environmental scheme, Objective 5b programmes, EU community initiatives). The most important points for a successful mountain-area policy will be shown in detail in the paper. The Austrian experience shows that successful policies to safeguard environmental amenities and the cultural landscape while promoting regional development in the mountain areas call for the incorporation of spatially oriented sectoral policies in integrated regional development strategies.