Development Trends in the Alps



see also the tutorial "Mountain Agriculture"

Agricultural Population

Across the Alps, the proportion of the population involved in agriculture in the year 2001 was only 4.4%. As would be expected, the proportion of agricultural population is smallest in the urban municipalities, while it is highest in the peripheral and in the balanced municipalities. The agricultural population has decreased by 167,000 between 1981 and 2001, which equates to a decline of over 40%. The relative decline between 1981 and 2001 was highest in the suburban and peripheral municipalities at 47%.

Table 9: Development of the agricultural population in the different types of municipalities 1981-2001. (Source: Adapted from CIPRA 2007).
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Agricultural Businesses

The number of agricultural businesses has decreased in the recent decades. The image shows the harvest of sage in Switzerland (Source: Coopérative Valplantes).

In 1981 there were still almost 590,000 agricultural enterprises in the Alps. Between 1981 and 2001 the number of farming businesses declined by 240,000, that is a reduction of 41%! The decline of 160,000 businesses in the 1990’s was almost double the decline of the 1980’s. The negative trend is particularly high in absolute terms in the urban areas, less (only minus 33%) in the tourism locations. The figures are strongly negative also in the suburban and peripheral municipalities as well as the balanced municipalities. Of the 345,000 agricultural enterprises existing in 2001, almost 145,000 are in the strongly urban municipalities.

Table 10: Agricultural businesses in the different types of municipalities 1981-2001. (Source: Adapted from CIPRA 2007).
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STREIFENEDER et al. (2007)
Selected Aspects of Agro-structural Change within the Alps. A Comparison of Harmonised Agro-structural Indicators on a Municipal Level.