Austria, a landlocked country in the middle of Europe, is famous for its spectacular mountain landscapes. Its mountain areas cover about 70 percent of the country’s territory and are homes to about one third of the Austrian population. Mountainous regions comprise a significant part of the country’s geography and culture. The Austrian Alps are the most prominent mountain range in Austria and include three main subranges: the Northern Limestone Alps, the Central Alps (Hohe and Niedere Tauern), and the Southern Limestone Alps. The Großglockner is the highest peak in Austria, with an elevation of 3,798 m above sea level.

Mountainous and remote municipalities in general face minimal access to services, few economic opportunities, small markets, and limited economic diversification. Specifically, the abandonment of farm land in marginal areas threatens place-specific and essential ecological, socio-cultural, and economic functions. Demographic challenges in Austria, along with their socio-economic effects, include aging, low shares of employees at an employable age, and a subsequent lack of (skilled) workers, and are one of the most pressing periphery traps in Austria’s mountainous region. However, different mountain regions present distinct development patterns. In the Western Alps, in-migration driven by amenity migration and counter-urbanisation has led to a more positive migration balance in many municipalities over past decades, particularly in municipalities located in and nearby the prosperous valley regions of Salzburg, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg. On the other hand, the Eastern part of the Austrian Alps suffers particularly from domestic out-migration, with young and female inhabitants often leaving mountainous municipalities for good. 

With a long-time experience of marginalisation threats, governance to cope with mountain-specific challenges have been elaborated on. Initiatives in Austrian mountain regions aim at improving infrastructure, providing support to mountain communities, promoting local economic activities, and securing cultural and environmental assets.

A Deep Dive into Supporting Resilience of Mountain Farming in Austria

Mountain areas form a significant part of Austria, covering 70% of its territory and hosting 56% of all its farms. Austrian mountains, however, are also often classified as disadvantaged regions due to topographical and climatic factors. Farming in these high-elevation areas presents challenges, but also yields quality products vital for sustaining local cultures. In the face of economic challenges, policy support and off-farm activities have significantly improved living conditions for mountain farm households. Read on to better understand how policy-making can positively impact mountain farming and its role in sustaining cultural landscapes and providing employment in Austria's mountainous regions.

Revitalising Marginalised Mountain Areas through Green Care 

Given the many potentials and challenges of mountainous areas, diversifying sources of income through Green Care can present sustainable opportunities for marginalised mountain communities. In Austria, expanding product portfolios in the agricultural and forestry sectors is a viable strategy of agricultural and forestry enterprises and smallholders to ensure economic sustainability.

Mountaineering Villages: An Initiative of the Austrian Alpine Association for Sustainable Mountain Tourism 

Mountain areas attract outstanding numbers of tourists. After beaches and islands, they act as the second most demanded outdoor destination for tourism activities. Where agriculture has long been the main source of income and entire areas are characterised by outmigration, tourism has sustainably improved and transformed the working and living conditions of local populations. Based on work being done in Austria, this blog shares insights into how promoting tourism activities in so-called Mountaineering Villages as a means of income diversification beyond traditional sectors can pose as an effective solution in marginalised mountain areas. 

Meet MARGISTAR's Austrian Members

MSc Daria Ernst

Bundesanstalt für Agrarwirtschaft und Bergbauernanfragen

MSc Isidora Dabic


Dr Somaye Latifi

Bundesanstalt für Agrarwirtschaft und Bergbauernanfragen

Dr Ingrid Machold

Bundesanstalt für Agrarwirtschaft und Bergbauernanfragen

Dr Ivana Zivojinovic