Department für Geographie
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ALPS - Analyzing and Modeling Transitions of Common Property Pastures in the Swiss Alps

The common property pastures in the Swiss Alps provide significant services to the mountainous regions, such as income sources for farmers and tourism industry, protection from soil erosion, water-run-off, landslides, and high biodiversity. These services are highly dependent on continuous management of the alpine pastures. In Switzerland, most alpine summer pastures are common property and have been managed by local governance systems since the Middle Ages in order to avoid over-use of the scarce resources. Societal changes, like industrialization, rapid economic growth, and new agricultural policies, induced major transitions of the pasture management system, which led to abandonment of marginal land or intensification of productive areas ensuing reduction of biodiversity on the long-term.