Mountain Agriculture

Mountain agriculture lies at the backbone of life in the Alps. It ensures a living for mountain people. It provides food. It shapes Alpine landscapes. It preserves traditions and knowledge. However, mountain agriculture faces numerous challenges. First and foremost, the natural conditions and structure of the Alpine territory are challenging. The Alps are characterized by a limited availability of arable land, steep slopes that make farming particularly labour-intensive and a scarcity of infrastructure in the more remote areas. At the same time the depopulation trends that characterize mountain areas in favour of cities and flat lands put an additional strain on Alpine farming.

In Article 2, 2g of the Framework Convention states that the general objective for mountain agriculture is to “maintain the management of land traditionally cultivated by man and to preserve and promote a system of farming which suits local conditions and is environmentally compatible, taking into account the less favourable economic conditions”.

Protocols and declarations

Further references to mountain agriculture can be found in the Nature Protection and Landscape Conservation Protocol, the Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development Protocol, the Tourism Protocol and the Soil Conservation Protocol.

Thematic working bodies

Selected documents and publications

  • Alpine Signals 8: Mountain Agriculture (2017)
  • Position paper of the Mountain Agriculture Platform prepared for the Mountain Farming Conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (D) October 2016 - available in German, French, Italian and Slovenian
  • Results of the Platform's consultation in the context of quality labelling - updated with amendments on the glyphosate and GMO issues (2016) - available in German, French, Italian and Slovenian
  • Statement on the contribution of mountain agriculture to food safety in the Alpine Convention perimeter (2016) - only in German, French, Italian and Slovenian
  • Sustainable mountain agriculture – Basis for a vibrant Alpine region (2014) - available in German, French, Italian and Slovenian
  • Results of the discussion of the Mountain Farming Platform on marketing, quality and labelling issues (2013) - available in German, French, Italian and Slovenian
  • 3rd Report on the State of the Alps: Sustainable rural development and innovation (2011) - summary and long version


  • International Conference on the Future of Mountain Agriculture in the Alps, St. Johann im Pongau (AT), 13-14 September 2017
  • AlpES (Alpine Space Programme) – Alpine ecosystem service mapping, maintainance and management project (2015-2018)
  • Alpen-Forum-Innsbruck on climate change and agriculture (2016)
  • We are Alps Tour 2014
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