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The film team

University of Bergen
Knut Krzywinski, Gidske L. Andersen, Chris Cocuzzi Cox

University of Vienna
Thomas Wrbka, Andrea Stocker-Kiss, Christa Renetzeder

Photo:Christa Renetzeder
Photo:Christa Renetzeder

The topic
The Austrian part of the DVD is mainly dedicated to future perspectives for the maintenance of our Common European Cultural Landscape Heritage. According to the last version of the film script from July 2005, on the one hand the actual situation with large-scale high intensity agriculture versus traditional small-scale low intensity agriculture highly endangered by intensification or abandonment shall be illustrated. On the other hand future perspectives for the maintenance or revival of traditional management but also for large-scale agriculture is shown.

The locations
Due to its geomorphology, Austria encompasses a wide variety of cultural landscapes – from the high Alps in the western and central part of the country to the hilly parts and lowlands in the North and the East. To capture the major European land use systems, a mountain area dominated by livestock farming and a lowland area with crop farming and viticulture were chosen for filming. Latter area also covers traditional grazing management for nature conservation purposes.

‘Lesachtal’ is a mountain valley in the province of Carinthia in southern Austria embedded between the Palaeozoic Carnian Alps in the South and the Mesozoic Lienz Dolomites in the North. It was formed by strong tectonic forces but also by glaciation and, in more recent times, by the erosive capacity of the river Gail, which has cut a deep gorge into the valley floor. Several tributary streams have carved out their own deep ravines making Lesachtal a rather inaccessible region. The typical character of a mountain peasantry landscape was shaped from the 11th to 13th century. Up to present days, forests, meadows and pastures are the dominant features of the valley, which has kept the typical character of an alpine cultural landscape. Most of the old farmsteads are preserved in their original style. One of the principal problems of Lesachtal is to maintain mountain farming, which is seriously endangered as it cannot compete with more favourable regions. Its difficult geo-ecological conditions and remoteness have saved it from mass tourism. Therefore eco-tourism is one of the valleys development options.
(Location in Google Maps)

The region of ‘Neusiedler See’ is situated in the lowlands of eastern Austria at the border to Hungary. It is part of the Small Hungarian Plain and dominated by the lake bassin, plain areas and low mountains. Aside from the shallow steppe lake and its broad reed belts and marshes, the natural scenery is characterised by modern agriculture. Viticulture, horticulture and crop production are the major land use types. But there are also some small salt lakes and steppic grassland areas representing remnants of the old vast pasture landscape called ‘Puszta’. These remnants are responsible for high biodiversity values. The region has been a pasture landscape over centuries, grazed by large herds of cattle, horses, goats and pigs. Then changes in demography and agrarian structure since the 1950's have led to abandonment of grazing and a dramatic loss of steppic grassland areas. Intensive efforts in nature conservation finally resulted in the resumption of grazing and the establishment of a national park in 1992.

(Location in Google Maps)

View slideshow from Austria