Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

H. K. Wytrzens and Ch. Mayer:

Multiple Use of Alpine Grassland in Austria and the Implications for Agricultural Policy


Grassland is increasingly expected to deliver non-agricultural products and services. This paper evaluates grassland multifunctionality by using a scoring model with index points. The (multiple) uses to which grassland may be put include agriculture; water resource management; leisure, recreation and amenity; waste disposal: environmental protection: hunting and shooting; and military purposes. A set of variables (agricultural land management activities, the frequency of various secondary uses (sport, disposal of sewage sludge etc.), prevalence of rare plants and animals, and the existence of legislative restrictions relating to environmental protection, water resource management etc.) is used as measure to represent the sum of all demands (at various levels) placed on a particular grassland area.

The model is tested empirically on 377 grassland parcels in the central Ennstal (Styria), using data collected in a survey of 125 farmers in autumn 1997. According to farmers, the most prominent non-agricu1tural uses are "aesthetic uses" and hunting/shooting. Grassland is also frequently used for hiking, cross-country skiing, Certain uses (e.g, environmental protection, hiking and aesthetics) were associated with grassland managed at low intensity; The assessment of grassland multifunctionality on a parcel-by-parcel basis suggests itself as a mechanism for determining direct payments. This kind of localised evaluation of non-agricultural uses of meadows and pastures is unavoidable if compensation payments are to be fair and if these payments are to receive long-term public approval.

Key words:  Multifunctionality of grassland, land use, agricultural policy.